Published by Coronet
Publication date – 12 May 2022
Source – review copy
Becky: a single mum who prides herself on her independence. She knows from painful experience that men are trouble.
Louise: a loving husband, gorgeous kids. She ought to feel more grateful.
Jameela: all she’s ever done is work hard, and try her best. Why won’t life give her the one thing she really wants?
Sheila: the nest is empty, she dreams of escaping to the sun, but her husband seems so distracted.
The inhabitants of the Inventor’s Housing Estate keep themselves to themselves. There are the friendly ‘Hellos’ when commutes coincide and the odd cheeky eye roll when the wine bottles clank in number 7’s wheelie bin, but it’s not exactly Ramsay Street.
The dilapidated community centre is no longer the beating heart of the estate that Becky remembers from her childhood. So the new pottery class she’s helped set up feels like a fresh start. And not just for her.
The assorted neighbours come together to try out a new skill, under the watchful eye of their charismatic teacher, Sasha. And as the soft unremarkable lumps of clay are hesitantly, lovingly moulded into delicate vases and majestic pots, so too are the lives of four women. Concealed passions and heartaches are uncovered, relationships shattered and formed, and the possibility for transformation is revealed.
Four women, neighbours though not close enough to be friends. Brought together by a pottery class at the community centre, the story follows them through the space of a few weeks, dealing with what life has thrown at them.
The story switch between each character, sometimes overlapping with other characters so the story arc progresses with the reader getting a wider picture. Each of the main characters has a different issue to deal with, from unwanted ex-partners to feeling stuck in a rut.
I liked the setting of the housing estate. It brought these disparate group of people together, giving a sense of commonality to them. The community centre was at the heart of the story, reflecting the intention of it in the estate.
As sometimes happens with multiple perspective books, I enjoyed some characters stories more than others. Becky’s seemed to be the lead story and this made sense. She was the one who organised the pottery class, who brought the other women together and so her story did the same. Louise was easy to relate to, the wondering what has become of her dreams and how have taken a back seat to real life.
I enjoyed the involvement of some of the minor characters for example Danny, Louise’s husband, Sheila’s husband Martin and his joy at his old junk discoveries and Becky’s relationship with her son.
I wasn’t perhaps as sympathetic as I should have been towards Jameela. Whilst her storyline was emotive, the more I read, the more I found her to be a little selfish in her outlook, for example towards her husband and how she treated her sister, which detracted from my feeling for her too much.
I would have also liked to perhaps see more of each story, to flesh it out so that there was more of a connection to each. This is probably an unreasonable request for the book would become too long if too much time was spent on each and then I would have complained about the story going on no doubt!
Whilst there is romance, this is not a love story. It is more a story about connecting with others, realising what we want from life and trying something new. It’s a story of friendship and every day life, full of little dramas and periods of calm.
I’ll be interested to read more by Sara Cox in the future.