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After two of my friends recommended this book to me independently of each other, I decided it must be worth a try. I had heard of the author's previous book "One Moment, One Morning", however I didn't realise that some of the characters appear in "The Two Week Wait". Although it is possible to read them independently of each other, I might have had more connection with the characters if I'd read the author's first book.
The book tells the story of two main characters, Cath and Lou, who have never actually met but are linked through their own tales of infertility. Cath is unable to have children due to previous health issues, and Lou is forced into considering her future with a partner who doesn't want the same things as her. They both embark on a journey to become first time mothers, and although their lives are very different, their stories are intertwined. Can these two women help each other get what they want? And can this possibly have a happy ending for both of them?
For me, it is quite often the characterisation which makes or breaks a book. In this respect, I was left feeling a bit detached from the characters as it isn't actually written from their viewpoint. Instead, we are given insight into all the different characters' emotions in the third person, so whilst we get good insight into Lou and Cath's feelings and fears, we also sympathise with Cath's husband, Rich, and other characters who are involved in the IVF treatment. Although the characters are all likeable, except for Cath's sister-in-law Sukey who insists on expressing her opinion, however offensive it may be, I didn't quite have the same connection to the characters that I would have had if they'd been narrating from their own viewpoint.
The characters are well rounded, however, and it's very easy to get a complete picture of their physical attributes, and also personality and emotional state of mind. I found the two main characters very strong characters, although it doesn't always appear that way at times, and even though we are looking in from the outside, it is clear why they behave or react the way they do sometimes.
The reason I've given this book three stars is because I honestly can't decide whether I'm glad I read it or not. I was told by both my friends that this made them cry at the end, but I can honestly say that by the time I got to the end, I was so bored I was already looking forward to starting my next book. I can't quite put my finger on what it was that made me not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, but I just didn't feel I engaged with it in the way I usually do. This may partly have been due to the subject matter, because when I started reading this I was embarking on my own "two week wait" (the two weeks between ovulating and finding out if you're pregnant or not), and although this should probably have made me empathise with the characters more, it almost detached me from the book because I had a feeling it wasn't going to end happily.
The themes covered in this novel are quite serious ones; infertility, IVF, egg donation, financial difficulties, grief, depression, illness. In fact, if you're looking for a bit of escapism, I would steer clear of this book. Although it does make you realise how lucky you are to not be faced with some of the issues and choices these characters are, it isn't exactly light reading, and there were very few times during the book I managed to raise a smile. I think one of the few occasions this happened was when Cath was trying to keep herself busy and bought a load of material from a haberdashery store to make a patchwork quilt. She felt comforted by throwing herself into a project, and even the word "haberdashery" brought her comfort, and this made me smile because it reminded me of myself. I know exactly how it feels to embark on the longest two weeks of your life, waiting to see if you've got lucky this month or not, and although this should have made me engage with the characters more, for some reason it didn't.
Without being sexist or making sweeping generalisations, I would hazard a guess that the majority of
men will hate this book. It really is one for women only, with in depth detail of menstrual cycles, fertility issues and so on. Some of the detail regarding the IVF treatment and processes was very precise, and I found this part of the book a bit boring because it felt like I was getting an education in IVF rather than reading a piece of fiction. It's a very serious book, and although I feel I have a slightly better understanding of IVF after reading it, that wasn't really what I was looking for from this book. Instead, I was looking for some characters I could relate to, and an engaging storyline.
Overall, I was very disappointed with this book. I can't really say whether or not I would recommend it, because although it wasn't awful, I didn't particularly enjoy it, and at times I found it quite boring instead of being a page-turner. If you have a deep interest in fertility and IVF issues, you might find it helpful, otherwise I'd probably give it a miss.
(Review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)