Orion Fiction 19th March 2020
On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their newborn son Samuel. But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. When he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.
So when Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – deranged with grief when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel, and starts to pretend their child is hers…
MINE was inspired by Clare’s husband finding his birth mother and the difficulty of navigating a relationship with a biological parent who is also a stranger. It explores the psychological fallout from adoption looking at how that original primal wound can have a devastating effect on the child as an adult. The book also takes the theme of love in all its forms; the intensity of first love, mother love and the radically different ways of parenting and how friendship can sometimes be the most profound love of all.
I enjoyed Clare Empson’s debut HIM (reviewed here) so when Tracey at Compulsive Readers invited me to participate in this blog tour I jumped at the chance. Thank you to Tracey and to Orion Fiction for providing me with a proof copy of Mine to read and review.
Put frankly this book was brilliant, told in a then and now format – which personally I love, the story focusses on Alice growing up and unexpectedly falling pregnant, through to the circumstances of the adoption. The ‘now’ format is Luke and his reunion with his biological mother and their subsequent arrangement for her to assist with childcare.
At the start of each of Luke’s chapters is a paragraph from a therapist Joel Harris and his book about adoption, cleverly these insights coincided with what was happening between Luke and his mother, sensitively exploring the challenging of adoptees reuniting with their birth parents. This insight was fascinating and I really liked how it played out in the relationship.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the book description, the ‘now’ chapters had a slightly sinister undertone as the story unfolded and things began to unravel. But for me I particularly enjoyed the ‘then’ part when we met a young Alice, a budding artist living life to the full. Clearly what follows is sad in both time periods but again I felt the author managed these issues competently and deftly.
The characters were likeable and I think particularly with Alice, meeting her previously allowed the reader access to her past, her difficulties but also the opportunity to meet the beautiful and enigmatic woman she was. For Luke this was a journey and his ability to re evaluate his relationships with the benefit of hindsight and learn about what it meant for him to be adopted.
Clare Empson follows her strong debut HIM with an equally strong second book, she demonstrates her skill in exploring relationships, love and a darker obsessive underbelly through appealing and relatable characters yearning for something more. Recommended reading for sure.
About the Author
Clare Empson is a journalist with a background in national newspapers and has worked as a small business editor, finance correspondent and fashion at the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Express. Clare freelances for The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard and Tatler among others. She currently works as editor / founder of experiential lifestyle website www.countrycalling.co.uk. Empson’s critically acclaimed debut HIM was published in April 2019.
This is a blog tour celebrating the publication of Mine, below are the details of others involved in the tour – do check out and share on Social Media what they are saying about Mine. You can also check out the #MINE