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Another day or so and another book to review! I tend to go through phases of reading huge amounts and then not reading anything for a while and this time of year certainly seems to be one of those times with the good weather we are having! This is a book by somebody I had not read before but, I really enjoyed the book and wanted to share my views on it.
Tess Stimson is an English author who now lives in Vermont, USA with her husband and three children. She has written 6 fiction books and two none fiction and also writes for the Daily Mail. She also sometimes writes for women's magazines and was once a producer for ITN.
Grace has everything she could ever want, a gorgeous home, a good job, money and a devoted husband. When things don't come that easily to her she always finds a way to get what she wants and isn't used to not being able to get her own way. However that all changes when she finds out she can't have children and for once it is her total opposite of a sister, Susannah, who is jobless, jealous of Grace and doesn't even have a home, that can be the one to give her what she wants. This should bring the sisters together but, considering they have spent many years apart and are only now seeing each other because their mother is in a coma, it surely can only make things worse?
We are first met by Susannah in the book and first impressions count! She is brass and a bit of a hussy with seemingly no regard for anyone. The author has created a very vivid picture of this character and this sets us up well for the book and how Susannah is during the course of the book.
Grace is more of the mature and definitely grown up of the sisters and this shows in the way the author has decided to have her character but, she actually can also come across as pretty nasty in a completely different way which really reveals itself during he course of the book.
The author has decided to write in a few more characters that are central to the story including Tom, Grace's husband, Claudia and Blake, who are Tom and Grace's best friends and also another character that is close to the sister's in the form of their mother and the whole reason the book brings the sister's back together in the first place. However I was really surprised by the inclusion of their mother in this story and all becomes apparent as you read as it was an element I was not expecting!
However as somebody else who has reviewed this book I don't think there was really one person in the book who didn't at some point come across as bad or weak in some form but, I think this is truly what the author wanted and rather than the usual 'lets have all the characters likable' it did make for a bit of a different read.
I can't remember if this book was purchased in Waterstones as part of a 3 for 2 or Tesco on the new buy one, get one free offer. Either way, as theses are normally the two main ways I buy the majority of my books it would have cost in the region of around £3.50- £4. Of course you can always buy second hand if you wish from various online retailers or rent from the library!
I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected too. I had picked this one up as because there was nothing else that seemed appealing . I had not expected it to actually be as good as it was and have to say maybe this was part of the reason I enjoyed it so much as it was such a nice surprise to start reading and be so into the book so early on. I know there have been reviews on this book where they have said they could not enjoy it because all the main characters were all horrible in some way and normally this would be the same for me as normally most people reading a book root for one person or another to find happiness, find true love, have their wishes come true etc, etc. Instead I still found I was intrigued and my loyalty kept switching between the two sisters throughout the book. This meant I wasn't really sure what was going to happen even though I thought I knew I still had to wait to the very end to find out!
So for me even though it did have characters that were a bit nasty, not that likable and I couldn't relate to any of them, I still really enjoyed it. I would say go into reading this with an open mind as it has a slight twist on the blurb on the back and there is a couple of elements that are extra that I was not expecting and also have a slight open mind to some scenes as whenever sex is mentioned it can be a little graphic - well not graphic but, more intense than a lot of other authors I have read so if this puts you off then beware it does feature in the book.
I will give this book a 4* rating as for me personally I really enjoyed it and will certainly be looking out for more of her books from now on.
The first of my Turkey beach reads was "What's yours is Mine" about Grace Hamilton and the relationship she has with her sister Susannah. Grace is the successful one, a happy marriage, well off with a good job - she even lives in a castle! Except the one thing she wants is the one thing she cannot have.
Her sister Susannah is the exact opposite by comparison. Wilful, adventurous penniless and basically a disaster about to happen, Susannah has made a mess of her life so far. When fate puts Grace's future in Susannah's hands, their relationship changes forever.
`Brilliantly enjoyable novel about rival sisters and surrogate parenting - quite unlike anything we've read in ages. Put it on your bedside table now . . . What's Yours Is Mine is a fab fusion of beach-read and bonkbuster, with a unique and gripping plot.' -Heat
Unsurprisingly given the magazine I'm referring to, Heats rave review of this book was way off the mark in my opinion. Yes, it's a tale of sibling rivalry and surrogate parenting - no it was not entirely a book that is unlike anything I've ever read and neither is it a fab beach read and so far from a bonkbuster I'm not even sure that the reviewer for Heat was referring to the same book!
I'll start from the beginning. The plot line really does have the potential to make this book an outstanding beach read, and as an author I have never read before, I was looking forward to it being the type of mindless book that would keep my entertained without much effort whilst lounging in the heat of Turkey.
However, this book started badly from the very beginning. With shallow and unlike able characters, I just knew it was going to be hard to win me over. Grace Hamilton, as I mentioned in the introduction appears to have it all on the surface, a successful career, adoring husband and beautiful home. She literally wants for nothing - except one thing - a baby. However, in the beginning chapters of this book, the author does little to "warm" her up to the reader, and despite the fact that I felt sorry for her inability to have children; I was less than impressed with her cold character.
Grace's character went even further downhill with the arrival of her sister who in turn was equally unlike able. We are introduced to Susannah in a way that shows the reader exactly how Susannah has lived her life. She is in an alley way in California having sex with a colleague before she returns to her job as a tattoo artist. Not the most likeable of beginnings I am sure you will agree, but next to Grace in their reunion soon after, Susannah comes across as the nicer one. Grace's clear disgust and ugly jealousy only make Susannah appear the normal one, and that really is saying something. However by the end of this chapter, Susannah has also sunk herself as low as Grace by being pleased with her inability to have children.
Enough said about two unbelievably horrible characters!
Luckily there are other characters that make Grace and Susannah easier to bear and at times also endeared them to me however far and few between this may have been. Grace's long-suffering husband I wanted to slap for putting up with her and cross-dressing Michael who works with Susannah and quite often puts her in her place. There is one character however who manages to beat Grace and Susannah in the vile stakes, and that is her best friends husband. His utter disregard for his wife and for Susannah and Grace is appalling (not to mention any other woman he comes into contact with) and on one particular scene I found myself livid with rage (the part I'm referring to will be clear if you read the book).
On a positive note, I enjoyed and appreciated the writing style of Stimson. Most of the story is told in two narratives; one from Grace and one from Susannah, and I particularly liked the way in which they overlapped so that the reader got to see a conversation or situation from both points of view. Although this still did little to endear either of them to me at the beginning, I did find myself thawing out towards the end and I could eventually see some redeeming qualities!
What I also liked about this book was that it was slightly grittier than most books of this genre; the characters were a little bit rawer and human despite their huge flaws they appeared realistic. However, after reading this there are still parts of the narrative where I find really unbelievable - and I'm aware that I'm contradicting myself! Susannah has children that she gave up for adoption, but this subject was treated in such a blasé way at times that I found it hard to understand. I expected there to be some kind of reconciliation or at the very least explanation of what there relationship would be like In the future and was disappointed when this didn't happen. Further to this, I found it almost impossible to comprehend the way in which Grace dealt with - and I can only call it - anal rape. This also seemed to be swept under the carpet as an almost day to day occurrence.
Overall, Stimson does touch on some tricky subjects and tries to tackle them in an intelligent way - I cannot say that I thought she pulled it off very well. This book at times is extremely well written but I cannot help but think some subjects could have been better dealt with and overall the execution of the book was somewhat lacking. I know I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected as I kept putting the book down to get up and walk around the beach or pool - a good book usually distracts me completely from the heat and not the other way around!!
Although they are sisters, Grace and Susannah have never really been close. Susannah was always sickly as a child and consequently had the constant attention of their mother much to Grace's chagrin. Grace, however, worked hard and was determined to make her father proud of her. She managed to do so, and is now happily married to Tom, and the pair have everything they could dream of. Everything, that is, except a baby.
Grace resents Susannah for the way she has treated her own 2 children, and the fact she's never been a proper mother to them. Susannah sees the opportunity to get the power back from her wealth and successful sister by giving her the one thing in the world that she wants - a baby. But as they say, you can choose your friends, not your family. What happens when the sisters start to clash again, will Susannah keep the balance of power in her favour or is Grace determined to trump her sister once and for all?
I came across Tess Stimson's work when I first read her superb book The Cradle Snatcher last year. I loved how edgy and dark it was compared to some other chick lit out there, so when I was offered a chance to get a copy of this, I jumped at it and eagerly sat to devour it one evening. The gorgeous pink and black cover is incredibly striking and would definitely make me want to pick a copy up off the shelf, and I think it looks a little different to other covers in the genre too. As with The Cradle Snatcher, some of the themes and ideas in this book are dark but they make for extremely gripping reading, and I just couldn't put it down once I'd started!
The story begins by introducing us to the sisters that are Grace and Susannah. I really liked Grace at first - she is successful, happily married but desperate to be a mother. I feel Stimson captures her despair at not being able to have a child perfectly, and the way this is handled in the book is really good and quite touching in parts. We aren't told much about why the sisters are on such bad terms until quite a way into the book so its a bit of a mystery but I enjoyed this because I was eager to uncover what happened between them to make the situation so bad. Susannah on the other hand is a character I really didn't like but warmed to her throughout the book and by the end, I really did like her character.
The way the relationship and the story between the sisters unfolds is really intriguing and I love the mysterious feel that Stimson manages to keep throughout the novel. Just when you think you have guessed what is coming next, something else suddenly pops up and has the book hurtling in a completely different direction.What I loved a lot about this book was the writing style. Stimson writes from the viewpoints of mainly Grace and Susannah, although there are a couple of other chapters narrated by others too. As well as the alternate narration, the two narrations overlap to show the scenario from both sides and this makes it so interesting because it puts such a different spin on it, and I love this about Stimson's work.
The whole feel of the book is very dark, so don't be fooled by its beautiful pink and black cover! It's definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing, there are some dark scenes in there and theme of surrogacy and adoption isn't what you'd be led to believe, and I loved the twists and turns along the way. I also really loved how my feelings for both Grace and Susannah change so much throughout the book according to what was happening, and this is because of Stimson's fantastic writing. By the end, I felt like I'd been on an emotional roller coaster with these characters and I think it all ended perfectly for how the book had gone.
If you enjoy your chick lit with a bit of an edge, then make sure you get a copy of What's Yours Is Mine by Tess Stimson. I loved the characters, the story that kept hurtling in different directions and the brilliant writing of Stimson which holds the thing together with ease. I really didn't want to stop reading whenever I picked it up because I knew if I put it down I'd be missing out on something exciting, and often I was right! The pink cover is gorgeous, but don't think it's going to be a girlie love story because it certainly isn't - it's much more than that and I adored it. As you can tell, I highly recommend it, and think it's a superb read.
ISBN: 978-0330458542. Published by Pan in April 2010. RRP: £6.99.
Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading!