Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.
Received from the Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley. This is the first book of Prowse’s that I’ve read, but it seems that there she has written others, such as My Husband’s Wife.
Anyway, in The Art of Hiding, Nina is watching her son Connor playing rugby for the prestigious Rugby Team at his expensive, private school. Both she and her two sons are waiting for her husband Finn to turn up to the game, but as usual it seems he is running late. Whilst his job pays for the big house and for both boys to go to their expensive school, Nina is disappointed that once again, Finn has not turned up to something he committed to do with his family. Nina finds out that Finn hasn’t turned up because he has been killed in a car crash, driving too fast in the opposite direction he should have been going in to get to the match. It is then that everything begins to unravel.
The nice upper-middle class lifestyle that Nina has settled into was all a lie (one that she told herself, and that Finn fed her). The big house, with the pool, the nice food, the private school for both the boys – is no more. Finn has mortgaged the house to the hilt, but died with the business being £8 million in debt and bankrupt. The “yummy mummies” from the school soon desert her when they find she has no money, and are not willing to even put them up in the garage, never mind loan them any money. The bailiffs are at the door (in perhaps the only slightly unbelievable plot point, but used for a reason).
So left with 2 children, no house, no friends, virtually no money and no work experience, Nina is left with the only option of returning to the run down estate in her home town where a relative has her old house available to rent. There she returns with Connor and Declan, who are culture shocked about the people on the estate and in their new school. It is for Nina to try and get a job, only to find that she is fit for little – but it is a chance encounter that allows her to start getting income and some self confidence back. She also reconnects with her sister Tiggy, who tells her some home truths about how she treated both herself and those around her during the social isolation and perfect life wanted by Finn (Including the fact that it is only Tiggy and none of her other “posh” friends who have stuck around when Nina needed help).
There are a mix of emotions that have to be dealt with, including grief, disappointment, shock, having to deal with the feelings of her sons who are going through similar feelings, and having to not give up, even when she wants to, because of two boys.
The secondary characters are relatively well developed – Connor as the teenager is suitably bratty at his change in circumstances and Declan (being younger) is a little more adaptable. Tiggy isn’t always around, but shows Nina that she *used* to be able to do this stuff until she married Finn and she left herself give in. The tertiary characters, such as Vera from the launderette across the road, are barely sketched but that’s ok.
Overall this book shows that you can be happy, no matter the circumstances if you are true to yourself, and that money isn’t always everything. It was well written and not my usual fare, though I may well read another book by this author in the future.
About this author
Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.