“A brilliant, heart-wrenching inspirational read, which also emphasizes the need for financial independence. The grief of the characters is palpable and their struggle portrayed so realistically.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Nina McCarrick has it all – a wonderfully loving husband, financial security and two children, 15-year old Connor and 10-year old Declan. Her perfect family and perfect life is shattered in one instance, when her husband, Finn, meets with a fatal accident. Since the news of his death, their whole world came spiraling down; as if it were in free fall.

As soon as the funeral is over and she’s coming to terms with her loss, her world collapses all over again. Nina learns that her husband’s business was under a mountain of debt and suddenly she finds herself faced with bankruptcy and eviction from their palatial house. With her back to the wall, no roof over her head, and no help from neighbors; she is forced to withdraw her sons from one of the most prestigious and premiere schools and relocate.

Due to lack of options, she decides to move to Southampton, where she spent her childhood. It was as if her life had gone backwards. While growing up, she and her sister Tiggy, faced numerous hardships; predominantly a financial crunch. After marrying Finn, she wore her wealth like a suit of armor – it offered protection from all that frightened her growing up. She had felt any worry over her financial future slip out of her life, and pleased by the fact that her kids would never know the hardship she faced. Finn insisted on dealing with all the finances, which she welcomed as a pleasant change, from having to watch every penny and wondering what the future held.

As she reaches Portswood, and sees the dilapidated run-down apartment (which she rented from her cousin Fred), her will and external façade, which she was putting on for the boys, starts to crumble. Anger and hatred towards Finn start creeping in her mind. She was unsure of the man she had been married to for all these years – the man who consigned them all to live in a downward spiral over which she had no control. The man she thought she knew inside out and back to front had so many secrets. Finn had promised her a life free of worry, a good life for her and their children. Finn had lied.

As Nina struggles to rebuild a life for themselves, with the meagre amount of cash she had; she is left questioning the true foundation of her marriage. Tiggy offers her support in all forms, for which she is very grateful. However, she parallelly has to deal with the boys who, apart from grieving for their father, now have to cope with a completely different surrounding and financial situation. Declan is sweet and malleable. Connor, on the other hand, is a typical disgruntled and complicated teen. His mood and treatment of her continue with its highs and lows.

Nina searches for a job, and sends in applications to any and all kinds of adverts, but finds herself lacking in every aspect.

While she was married to Finn, she had no inkling of the external world. He controlled her and he was so good at it that she didn’t even notice. He built her a palace and gave her money and she filled it with lovely things. In the process, she lost herself, her confidence and her zest for life. She was nervous to mingle with people, constantly worried about portraying the wrong thing. She became the cardboard-cutout wife.

She’s left to question herself, “What had she done in her life other than marry well?”

People who live with extreme stress and cannot see any way out fall into two categories. The first are those who fall apart externally, seek help and battle it publicly. The second are those who don’t do this and can’t; they keep it bottled up inside and become skilled in the art of hiding. Finn fell in the latter.

But, Nina doesn’t give up. With determination, courage and faith; piece by piece she starts assembling the puzzle of their lives and things start changing ever-so-slowly. The situation into which they were forced was shaping her children, especially Connor, in a positive way. Hardship eroded his sense of haughtiness and a nicer, humbler boy started emerging.

With emotional support from Tiggy and her new found friends, and as her life starts taking some form of shape, Nina realizes that happiness can never be built on the foundations of wealth or on materialistic things. Happiness was waiting for her, in her people. She just wasn’t able to see it.

Happiness lies in being content – and now. If you’re constantly waiting for happiness to start, waiting for the change that will make it happen, then you might just miss some good days along the way.

This is a story of living after a tragedy, picking up the pieces of your broken life and finding happiness and contentment in the present. It is also about hope, survival and finding the inner strength and confidence to deal with life and its setbacks.

A brilliant, heart-wrenching inspirational read, which also emphasizes the need for financial independence. The grief of the characters is palpable and their struggle portrayed so realistically.

Fully recommended.
My rating: 5/5.

 

Reviewed by:

Ranjini Sen

Added 10th September 2017

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