Myself and Georgina don’t have children, mainly down to medical reasons. But what we do have is two cats and a dog, which if you were to eavesdrop on our house at any given time of the day, you would think that we were living with teenagers. They don’t come when they are called, don’t speak, sleep for long periods of the day, and stay out all night (that’s mainly the cats). They also fight with each other and traipse food all over the gaff, not to mention eating everything that isn’t securely locked away or defended with your life. Like most animal lovers we do talk to our animals and can regularly hold fairly lengthy two-way conversations with them, making me think I missed a calling on the stage as a ventriloquist.
I am though, a godfather to two girls, one of which lives in Melbourne. Some people might think even in the godparenting dept. I got away lightly. So, as you might have guessed this month’s second book review is all about parenting, no! It’s not a self-help book. Its Eternity Leave by Simon Kettlewell and self-published (February 2021) available on Amazon.
Brigit Wheeler’s partner (mysteriously unnamed) has for the past nineteen years been the sole carer for their four children Chloe, Emma, Ruby and Ollie. While Brigit has gone out to work running a large UK hospital, he, the un-named narrator, decided to take the unconventional route (twenty years ago) and be a stay at home dad. Setting out to be self-sufficient and follow in the footsteps of TV Chef Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, while also becoming a successful novelist and proving men can be capable parents, especially when guided by the self-help book The Complete Guide to Childcare. But five minutes after Bridgit’s maternity leave ended with their eldest Chloe, he realises the magnitude of this decision, after all this time, has he really achieved anything?
It was only after reading this book and looking at the press release that accompanied it, that I saw in big bold letting “A MUST FOR ANY PARENT”. But despite that, I enjoyed this book, it’s funny and although not being a parent I wasn’t ROTFL, as the kids might say, more often than not I found myself reflecting on how I react when my young nieces and nephews do something and my sister telling me to relax. Then I quickly realise there’s a divine reason I’m not a parent. I did sympathise with the main character (good god, let’s call him Mr Wheeler), As I endure the same respect from our pets as he does from his kids.
There are some poignant parts in the book, for example, when he meets another mother and her mum pushing her kids round a local zoo and a couple of months later, he meets the grandmother with the kids at the same zoo, only to discover that the daughter died of cancer shortly after the last meet, and what “Mr. Wheeler” thought was the fatigued look of childcare on the mothers face was actually her battle with cancer. Ok, not exactly 24hrs in A&E, but a nice touch for a piece of fiction.
This is English author and father of four, Simon Kettlewell’s (www.simonkettlewell.co.uk) fifth book, his others are Bread for The Bourgeoisie (2014), Dead Dog Floating (2015), The Truth About Us (2016) and The Truth About Her (2016) all self-published and available on Amazon. Simon lives in Devon, with his family, a variety of animals, in a multicoloured house where people come and go like passengers at a station.
So, if you are looking for book that is cross between the TV shows, Breeders, Outnumbered and The Good Life. While also seeking to reassure yourself that your parenting skills are above par, and that the path you have chosen is, definitely not a lonely furrow, then get on to Amazon and order a copy to enjoy while the kids are asleep or before you do.
Reviewed by : Adrian Murphy
This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought read visit their blogs listed below, then if you get a copy of this book and read it, comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.