To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler

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To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Three women embark on a traumatic few months in their lives and face problems which threaten their family life and their friendships. An easy, engaging read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-1444786774

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We're looking at a few months in the lives of three women. On the face of it Ella has it all. She's got a happy marriage and two gorgeous children along with a home in the village-y part of Walthamstow. But she wants something more - and her husband doesn't agree that another child is the answer. Her friend Imogen and partner Pete used to have a fun relationship but after the birth of Indigo things changed, with Imogen needing to focus on the baby and Pete becoming more distant and less involved. Then there's Phoebe. She's just fifteen years old and bullied at school: she's that unfortunate girl in the class who is overweight and under cool. She and her mother simply don't get on - Liz is a model and a size eight - but she's close to her father, but round about the time of her GCSEs her parents split up and that closeness was lost.

The link between Ella and Imogen is obvious but the connection to Phoebe is less so - until you find out that when Ella was in the sixth form she had a crush on a teacher, Callum McCraig. She used to babysit for his daughter, Phoebe. Years later - and feeling disenchanted with her home life - she returned to the Liverpool of her youth for a hen party and encountered Callum who had just had an almighty row with Liz, his wife about the way that she treated their daughter. Yes - you've guessed - it's the recipe for an almighty mess.

I loved Phoebe: she just tried so darned hard to make things work, against all the odds. I could cheerfully have choked her mother, but I suspect there was a queue. Liz couldn't resist nagging Phoebe about her weight, about the way that she looked - well, about anything, in fact - and Phoebe always consoled herself from her stash of chocolate. I'd a lot of respect for Imogen: when Pete caused an accident which could have killed Indigo - and then blamed Immy for being cross with him - she didn't bemoan her lot. She just got on and did what had to be done - without the support she should have been able to expect from Ella. I struggled with Ella: in fact it took me most of the book to get to the point of thinking that I might have misjudged her. And Callum McCraig might have loved his daughter (when convenient) but he came across to me as downright manipulative.

It's a good story but I'll confess to finding the parts which involved Phoebe the most compelling. She seemed very real and I'd love to hear more about how she gets on. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

Looking for something similar to read? we can recommend No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday by Tracy Bloom.

Buy To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler at

Buy To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler at


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