Author: Amanda Prowse
Published: November 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
Category: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Book Review
When Nick’s wife Kerry falls ill and dies, he realises for the first time how fragile his happiness has always been, and how much he’s been taking his good life and wonderful family for granted. Now, he suddenly finds himself navigating parenthood alone, unsure how to deal with his own grief, let alone that of his teenage son, Olly.
The Light in the Hallway begins by giving the reader a glimpse of ten year old Nick and his two best friends, Alex and Eric, before returning to the present where Nick’s wife, Kerry, is terminally ill. He is trying to persuade their son, Oliver, to go to the hospice with him for what would be the last time.
Oliver, understandably, is finding difficulty in coping with the thought that his mother would never be coming home and refuses to go. If he doesn’t witness his mother’s death then he can still imagine she’s around.
Nick and Kerry were childhood sweethearts and circumstances meant that Nick’s plans changed. His dreams, and his father’s for him, were shelved. Although Nick and Kerry loved each other and built a solid marriage, it wasn’t always plain sailing. Now Nick has to be strong for Olly, despite his own heartbreak and pain, and he’s unsure how to handle a teenage boy in denial. Oliver’s A-level results were the catalyst that flung him into the reality he’d fought against facing.
‘Mum! Dad! I did it! I did it!’ the boy called from the hallway. ‘I got three…’
And then a bang as if something had hit the floor.
And then silence.
Nick had heard the words loud and clear, so naturally, so comfortably called that it took a second or two for the universe to catch up. He looked towards the door, expecting his son to walk in. After a couple of seconds, he stood and went to investigate the silence. He put his head around the door and knew that he would never forget the sight that greeted him.
Amanda Prowse is adept at understanding and articulating the spectrum of human emotions, writing with sensitivity and empathy. In this story she lays bare the feelings of loss and learning to deal with the grief felt by the people Kerry has left behind. Everyone copes in their own way, sometimes placatingly, sometimes acerbically, generally supportively as everyone navigates their own personal and life changing journey. Living in a small village with a close community made everything more stressful for Nick, as everyone knew his business and some people didn’t hesitate to offer opinions.
The characters are multi dimensional and believable. The lovely and somewhat complicated relationship between Nick and typical teenager, Olly is perfectly drawn and true to life. Nick’s relationship with his parents, and his two best friends, shown through flashbacks covering one particular summer, gives an insight into his character and what made him the man he became.
I enjoyed the fact that the story is told from the male point of view, showing the struggles and differences of opinion encountered while trying to move on and build some sort of life when a partner dies. The recurring themes include the importance of friendships, family and having hope for the future however bleak things might look in the present. I love how the title resonates throughout the storyline.
The Light in the Hallway is beautifully written, with humorous moments to offset the sadder ones, and showing that life, more often than not, doesn’t turn out as expected. There are forks in the road, hills and sometimes mountains to climb and lessons to learn. Another winner from Amanda Prowse.
About the Author
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has had twenty novels published in dozens of languages. Her chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’ and ‘My Husband’s Wife’ have sold millions of copies around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres.
A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour.