The Perfect Daughter - Amanda Prowse
Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer's-ridden mother is exhausting. She's sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.
All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something... won't it?
A caring daughter, loving wife and devoted Mum to two kids, Jacks lives a life of what-ifs, her life hasn't turned out that bad, but she often feels she could have done so much MORE with her life - and who can't relate to that? (If you're the one who never thinks this, I take my hat off to you as you're very lucky)
She spends her days struggling to make ends meet, caring for her discontended, alzheimers-ridden Mother and feeling taken for granted, often annoyed by her husband and frustrated by her kids and the monotony which has become her daily routine, and she daydreams about how things might have been if she'd ended up with a different man, the childhood sweetheart, the one that got away.
She has a wonderful, loyal friend Gina who injects a few moments of bright humour into the proceedings but the real sparkle in her eyes is provided by teenage daughter Martha on whom Jacks is pinning all her hopes. Martha is bright, does well at her studies and is going to do all the things Jacks blew the chance at doing and Jacks is planning to experience success vicariously, through the achievements of Martha - the perfect daughter.
The whole story is set in Weston Super Mare, a place I've never visited but through the book I felt I knew it, it has that small town "Broadchurch" ffeel and in my mind (possibly erroneously) the characters spoke with similar burring accents to the families in this popular tv drama.
What delighted me most is the beautifully compassionate and descriptive writing. This is a romantic novel about everyday life that is SO wonderfully believeable and deliciously readable I galloped through it and felt bereft at the ending - all the signs of the perfect read. I will most certainly be reading more by this author who I'm delighted to have discovered.