Taming Tom Jones, written by Margaret K Johnson and originally published in October 2015, has been renamed and relaunched. Here’s Margaret to explain why….
What’s in a title? Well, quite a lot, actually.
I’ve just decided to rename and relaunch my novel Taming Tom Jones. Why? It’s quite a catchy title, and I’ve always been fond of it. But…I came up with it years ago, when I first started to write the novel, because the couple in the story met at a fancy dress party when she was Madonna and he was…yes, you’ve guessed it, Tom Jones.
Some of my books are written quickly, but others take longer. Life or other projects get in the way, and they’re left to simmer and brew. Taming Tom Jones was interrupted by the arrival of my son, by commissions to write language readers, and by ideas for other novels, which I wrote and published. When I returned to writing TTJ, I had changed, and so did the book. It started life as a chicklit novel, but as I worked on it years later, it began to evolve into something different – a women’s fiction novel about a woman – Jen – and her quest to save her relationship to provide her unborn child with a good future. As events of the story unfold, Jen grows from being someone who has been too easily pushed around, to someone who takes action and makes up her own mind, no matter how difficult this is.
The baby makes all the difference.
Jen’s partner Michael has never been in a relationship for more than four years, so with their fourth anniversary coming up, she’s getting understandably nervous. Especially as she’s just discovered she’s going to have a baby. For Jen, it’s a dream come true and the happiest of accidents. But Michael has always said he doesn’t want any more children other than Kyle, his teenage son.
She means to tell him about the baby straight away, but that’s when he turns up on the motorbike, full of dreams of the two of them riding through the Pyrenees on a care-free trip of a life time. Somehow, Jen ends up keeping her news about the baby to herself. Is Michael having an early mid-life crisis?
Jen has always been easy going; the type who often let others make decisions for her. But the baby has changed everything. She has to be strong, and she has to do everything she can to provide the best of futures for her unborn child. Determined to save her relationship, Jen decides to take some drastic action. Aided and abetted by her two very different best friends, Jen embarks on some detective work that takes her as far afield as Cuba and North Norfolk. If she can find out why all Michael’s other relationships failed, maybe she can stop the same thing from happening to her.
But, as her pregnancy clock ticks, Jen has no idea of the can of worms her investigations are going to open up. Why do all Michael’s relationships break up? And what’s the big secret he’s been hiding from her? And will her quest to provide a happy family unit for her unborn child work?
Jen and her partner, Michael, met at a fancy dress party almost four years ago. Michael made it clear from the start he didn’t want children as he already has a son from a former relationship. Jen has just discovered she’s pregnant and is apprehensive of Michael’s reaction and elated because she’s been quashing her desire to be a mother. Despite her friend Marcia’s urging she didn’t set out to deceive Michael, it’s just one of those unforeseen occurrences. Jen has every intention of telling Michael immediately but he arrives home on a motorbike, not very family orientated, having traded in the car. Jen is also nervous because Michael seems on edge lately and she wonders if he’s having a mid-life crisis. Not to mention the fact his previous relationships have never lasted longer than four years.
After talking to Hannah, her ex’s mother who she is very close to, Jen decides to do all she can to save her relationship with Michael, which involves drastic action. If she can find out, and understand, why Michael’s past relationships didn’t last she might be have an idea how to save her own.
We eat our pasta for a while, both busy with our own thoughts, and then Hannah wipes her mouth with her napkin. “It’s a shame we can’t find out why all those past relationships of his ended, isn’t it? If we knew that, then we’d have more of an idea of the pitfalls you might be facing.”
Something sparks to life somewhere inside me. “You’re right,” I say. “It would be good to know that.”
Hannah sighs. “Though I suppose there would be no easy way to find out, would there?”
Kyle, I think, my brain racing. Kyle, Michael’s teenaged son, has kept in touch with most of Michael’s exes. And, of course, he’s the son of one of them. I could ask him. I could do some investigating; set out to meet some of them. Why not? What have I got to lose?
Jen feels Michael has always held something of himself back and coupled with his strange behaviour, causes Jen to suspect he is planning on ending things between them. That feeling, and Jen’s secret, affects them both until it seems nothing will be able save their relationship.
I enjoyed reading the book very much. Romance isn’t usually a genre I choose unless it has other elements to the story. This book deals with some serious issues and is well crafted, sensitive and with no over exaggerated, slushy sentimentality. Characters are well defined and mostly easy to relate to. I particularly liked the relationship between Hannah and Jen but couldn’t really warm to Marcia for quite a while, even though I was able to sympathise with her situation.
The structure of the story works really well. Jen tells her story in the present and the first person. Alternate chapters reveal Michael’s story from when he was a little boy, until the two timelines merge past with present and complete the understanding of why Michael has become the man he is. I became lost in the story and found it quite moving.
About the author
Margaret K Johnson began writing after finishing at Art College to support her career as an artist. Writing quickly replaced painting as her major passion, and these days her canvasses lay neglected in her studio.
She is the author of both non-fiction and women’s fiction published by Omnific Publishing and Earthy Works Publishing. She also writes well as award-winning original fiction readers in various genres for people learning to speak English, published by Cambridge University Press and Cengage Learning.
An experienced adult education tutor, Margaret founded WriteUP Courses in early 2015, and works with those who want to use writing as therapy as well as those who want to become published authors. Margaret has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and lives in Norwich, UK with her partner and their bouncy son and dog.