Friday 5 November 2021

Review: The Woman in the Middle by Milly Johnson

Shay Bastable is the woman in the middle. She is part of the sandwich generation – caring for her parents and her children, supporting her husband Bruce, holding them all together and caring for them as best she can.

Then the arrival of a large orange skip on her mother’s estate sets in motion a cataclysmic series of events which leads to the collapse of Shay’s world. She is forced to put herself first for a change.
But in order to move forward with her present, Shay needs to make sense of her past. And so she returns to the little village she grew up in, to uncover the truth about what happened to her when she was younger. And in doing so, she discovers that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the only way is up.

Review: This was quite different from what I was expecting. When you read the premise of this book you get the main idea of what is going to happen to our 'Woman in the Middle' but you have no idea how we're going to get from the beginning to the end and what depths we're going to go to in between. This book is a wild ride. I was left quite exhausted from everything poor Shay had to go through. It was a journey and it is testament to Milly Johnson's writing that she got me through in one piece!

Yes Shay is the woman in the middle but she is so much more than that. As well as being someone who cares for her parents, her children and her husband she is also lacking in anyone who actually hears her or supports her. She has skeletons in her closet that burden her on a daily basis and I'm surprised she had not already snapped and thrown in the towel. At points the book was pretty stressful because of all that Shay and her family go through and it was sometimes a tough read. 

The structure of this book is very interesting. Whilst it does take place in chronological order, as I have already mentioned, it's so much more than just Shay and her sandwich of parents and children. So many of the things that affect her are explored fully in this book. Each tangent we go down gets it own time and attention and I did sometimes wonder if we would ever get back to Shay's previous issues but everything just weaves round and round and back together and so you have to ensure you're concentrating. It must have been a nightmare to keep track of whilst plotting and writing. 

I did enjoy the fact that we have a previous character from a Milly Johnson novel pop up in this book and we return to a setting we had been to before so as you're reading make sure that you keep an eye out for those easter eggs! I listened to this book on audio and whilst the narration was good, I like that the narrator of a Milly Johnson novel always has a norther accent, there were some issues with chapters being cut off part way through. Thankfully I had my beautiful hardback to fall back on and I have heard that the problem has been fixed so if you were thinking of downloading the audio you should be fine now!

Whilst I didn't laugh as much with this book as with previous novels from this author, she really does tackle some real world issues within the pages of the novel and it gave me pause for thought. She has still included her usual strong women, people getting their comeuppance and of course a good dollop of Yorkshire spirit. Despite the audiobook issues I do recommend the audio but the hardback is also really stunning!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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