The Things we Do for Love (by Alice Peterson)

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Alice Peterson, so each time she publishes a new novel it goes straight on my wishlist. I was very pleased to be given this last Christmas, and have just finished reading it.

‘The Things we Do for Love’ is about a young woman called January. She works as PA to an estate agent, and is single mother to an eleven-year-old daughter, Isla. It’s clear almost from the start that Isla has some form of disability, but it’s not immediately obvious what form it takes. And that’s fine; most of this author’s books feature a child or teenager with some form of physical or mental problem, and the person concerned is introduced as an important character, with relationships established, before we discover what their specific difficulties are.

The chronology of the book seems a bit confusing at first; each chapter is dated, but whereas the majority is in the present (2014) there are forays into January’s past, including her discovery of being pregnant, and the growing concern she has about her daughter’s development. We see her, too, as a child; she and her brother were orphaned at a young age and grew up with loving grandparents, and both are deeply affected by their upbringing.

Alice Peterson is excellent at weaving together the different strands that make up the story, beginning as the obviously pregnant January tries to find a place to rent in her price range, and then gradually introducing the other key players in her life. Her former boss Jeremy is a delight, but evidently getting rather lax as he heads towards retirement. Her new boss Ward is much more of a challenge to Alice and her colleagues, and she’s not sure what to think of him at first.

It’s a story of love, of decisions, of friendship and loyalty. It’s primarily character-driven, so the romance that inevitably develops is a side-line, something that goes alongside January’s fierce love for her daughter, and commitment to her grandparents.

By the time I was about half way through it was difficult to put this down, and I finished the last third in almost one sitting. I didn’t laugh aloud or find myself in tears, but several of the characters got under my skin. The writing is excellent, the situations believable, and the whole is encouraging.

Definitely recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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