Rose Starling, abused wife, is living on benefits with her three children on an estate in a small town near Newcastle. Trying to keep one step ahead of the tallyman she dances in the shadows of various illegal dealings.
She’s got problems though when bits of her ex-husband keep turning up in different places and the slimey DI Savage seems to be bending the evidence to link her to the murder.
Adding to her troubles, she has to work in a topless bar to make ends meet and she’s being pressured into taking a “ job” for hard as nails Vera Devlin from the estate.
Desperate to extricate herself from the mess, she breaks into her old marital home to find the diary of her dead husband, setting off an explosive chain of events.
Set against a backdrop of Northern council estate life, this fast-paced, gritty, humorous novel exemplifies the problems caused by poverty, piles and unruly children.
Eileen Wharton is an Oscar winning actress, Olympic gymnast, and Influencer. She also tells lies for a living. Her first novel was published in 2011 to worldwide critical acclaim. And she’s won awards for exaggeration. It did top the Amazon humour chart so she’s officially a best-selling author. She currently has five ‘lively’ offspring ranging from thirty-three to fourteen years of age, and has no plans to procreate further, much to the relief of the local schools and police force. She lives on a council estate in County Durham. She has never eaten kangaroo testicles, is allergic to cats and has a phobia of tinned tuna. She’s retired from arguing with people on the internet.
My thoughts: darkly comic and peopled with real characters (I loved Rose’s friends Mags and Elsie next door), this is a look at life that’s raw and frankly a bit terrifying. Rose’s mean ex-husband has left her with no money but three children to raise, walking a tightrope between poverty and crime, struggling to get by. She takes on various iffy cash in hand jobs to supplement the scraps of benefits and even then she’s searching down the back of the sofa for bus fare.
After her ex gets murdered and the creepy police detective starts hanging about, she’s under pressure from the local gangster family to do a few jobs or else. Her boss also seems to be taking an interest in her.
Bits of this were hilarious and silly, but other bits were quite dark and sad. Rose hasn’t had an easy life and all she really wants is for things to go right for once. Three children is a lot for anyone and she’s totally alone apart from her friends. But as things escalate she discovers she’s not quite as unlucky as she thought and being resourceful and quite clever, she comes up with a plan to make things go right.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.