Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle


Published by Hodder & Stoughton this book is available now in Hardback and Ebook with the paperback due to be released 1st December 2016. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom, his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.
Linda has put her own grief aside this past year to help her family in their time of need - moving into the family home to be there for her son-in-law and grandchildren. But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.
In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his life, she takes drastic action and leaves for  Australia. There, Linda realises she must face up to her own past before she can find hope for the future.  

At home, with two fast-maturing girls on his hands, Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately. With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?

My Thoughts:

I have previously read books by this author and I enjoy his writing very much. This one is somewhat of a surprise but a pleasant departure from the wit and humour that I have read in his previous novels. This one is a lot more serious but is sensitively handled and beautifully written.

I love the way that Mike Gayle's books are written from the male perspective, but there is empathy and warmth in all of the characters. In this book we are told the story through the eyes of Linda and of Tom. This works well as you can see both sides of the story coming to light and both lots of emotions. The children Evie and Lola are strong and courageous given they have lost their mother. 

Linda has lost her daughter and Tom has lost his wife. Tom in amongst his grief has forgotten he has children, children who are grieving too. This is a story of grief and loss but of also moving forwards into a new future. A future that nobody expected but one they all have to get used to nonetheless. 

Some might say that the worst of Tom's behaviour is indulgent but I just found it heartbreaking and really created empathy in the reader for his bereavement and feeling alone in the world. His wife Laura was the organiser, the planner and the doer. Without her, Tom is completely cut adrift. The narration style works very well as it shows Linda is struggling too, although on the surface she is the one that tries to hold everything together. 

There are still traces of humour throughout that keep this story at the right end of touching. Strange that the family name is Hope, as in amongst the grief and loss this whole story takes on a sense of hope. Moving, entertaining and beautiful, Mike Gayle has triumphed again. Now to clear the lump in my throat.

Pass me a hanky please!


About the Author:

Previously an Agony Uncle, Mike Gayle is a freelance journalist who has contributed to a variety of magazines including FHMSunday Times Style and Cosmopolitan. His bestselling novels include MY LEGENDARY GIRLFRIEND, MR COMMITMENT, TURNING THIRTY, HIS 'N' HERS and BRAND NEW FRIEND. He keeps a website at www.mikegayle.co.uk and can be found on Facebook and on twitter.com/mikegayle

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