blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Heart Warrior’s Mother – Marilyn Cohen De Villiers

Kerry-Anne Aarons is over the moon. She and her husband, Imran Patel, are about to become the parents of a baby daughter, and give their son, Leo, an adored little sister. It wasn’t planned, but Kerry knows that Lily’s arrival will complete the perfect little family she has always wanted. She,
Imran and their two children are going to live happily ever after…
Then life intervenes.
Lily is born with a serious congenital heart defect and Kerry’s battle to save her daughter commences. It’s a battle that takes her from the operating theatres and Intensive Care Units of local hospitals to the High Court of South Africa. It’s a battle that strains her relationships with her friends, her parents, and – ultimately – her husband. It’s a battle she is determined to win.
But how much will Kerry have to sacrifice to give Lily the future she deserves?
“A true, cross-generational story of the eternal link between love and pain… the greater the love, the more inevitable the pain. Marilyn Cohen de Villiers once again – with amazing skill – depicts the common humanity that transcends differing cultures.”
James Mitchell – former Book Editor, The Star, Johannesburg
A percentage of the proceeds of this novel will be donated to the Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa, an organisation that funds lifesaving heart surgery for children across the continent.

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I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, the youngest daughter of an
extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family.
After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the Student’s Representative Council (SRC), competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours degree (first class), also at
Rhodes.
With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily
newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships as protests and unrest against the Apartheid government intensified;
stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.
I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers. Despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.

After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability. My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. I returned to my roots as a journalist in a freelance capacity some six years ago, writing mainly business and IT articles.
So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction?
The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved. A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014. The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015, followed by Deceive and Defend, in 2018. Although this was not intended when I first started writing fiction, the three novels together constitute
The Silverman Saga trilogy.
Unlike my earlier novels, my latest book, The Heart Warrior’s Mother, was inspired by a true story.
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My thoughts: inspired by a true story, this is a bittersweet tale of parental love and devotion. Lily is born with a serious heart defect and must endure multiple surgeries and procedures to keep her alive. This has a terrible toll on her parents, Kerry and Imran, and older brother Leo.

I can understand some of the emotions the family go through. My younger sister was born very premature with brain damage from birth and needed a lot of extra attention, including several operations on her eye to correct a fault. It’s a lot. And it can be incredibly draining. But like my family, Lily’s parents won’t give up on their daughter.

The book is heartbreaking at times, Lily does so well and then relapses, stops eating, gets sick, needs more time in hospital on ventilators as her heart struggles to pump vital oxygenated blood around her tiny body.

Kerry emerges as the hero of the book – she fights against, at times overwhelming, difficulties for her child. From power cuts that threaten to stop Lily’s medical equipment from working, to even having a legal battle on her hands when her husband says enough. Through it all her love for her child shines through. You will need tissues for this one.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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