The Godmother (by Amanda Brookfield)

It's only in the past year or two that I've been reading books by Amanda Brookfield. I've enjoyed them all, in a low-key kind of way, so am always happy to find more, particularly in charity shops and thrift stores. So I was very pleased to be able to rescue one from a bag of books someone was about to take to a charity shop a few months ago!

'The Godmother' is the story of a high-flying advertising director called Rachel. She has plenty of money, some good friends, and an enjoyable social life. She has never wanted long-term commitments, so is happy to have a boyfriend/lover in another continent whom she sees from time to time, and to be the shoulder to cry on for her friends who have difficulties with their marriages or children.

Rachel has managed to acquire four godchildren over the past ten years or so. The story opens just after the christening of her youngest godchild, Leo. Rachel escapes as soon as she can, feeling almost claustrophobic in the happy family environment where she knows almost nobody, wanting to return to her structured and unencumbered life. But gradually Rachel becomes aware of what it means that she is approaching forty. She feels that something is missing in her life, and wonders if having a baby would provide the extra love and fulfilment she thinks she wants.

Since she really doesn't want a husband, she makes some plans... and finds herself discovering that not everything can be organised in advance in the way she wants. There are ups and downs, pleasures and disappointments, and several misunderstandings before she finally realises what - or who - it is that she wants most of all.

The book is undoubtedly of the class called 'women's literature', but I'd class it higher than 'chick-lit'. There are some quite complex issues explored through Rachel's eyes, and some excellent characterisation. Amanda Brookfield writes well, with a good pace - not too rushed, but with plenty happening. While someone like Rachel bears little relationship to anyone I have ever met, I found her likeable and sympathetic; there were moments when I smiled, moments when I was quite moved.

All in all, very enjoyable. Unfortunately this book is now out of print, but no doubt available second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 11th July 2011

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