Review & Giveaway: Grace Under Pressure by Tori Haschka

 

Title: Grace Under Pressure

Author: Tori Haschka

Published: 3rd March 2021, Simon & Schuster Australia

Status: Read March 2021 courtesy Simon & Schuster

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My Thoughts:

Grace Under Pressure is a witty, wise and warm debut novel from Tori Haschka about motherhood, marriage, friendship, and modern life.

With the world’s worst, or perhaps best, timing the lives of three friends, Grace, Petra and Shelly all implode on practically the same day. Seeking solace and support, the women, with five (and a bit) young children between them, decide to create their own ‘mummune’ – sharing Grace’s Northern Beaches home, the bills, childcare, cooking, and all the other ‘life admin’ tasks mothers manage daily. The arrangement seems like it could be the perfect answer to the pressures the three are under, but perfection is a fragile thing.

Many mothers will find their experiences reflected in the protagonists of Grace Under Pressure, as I did, whether it’s the attempt to juggle work/life balance, to overcome sleep deprivation, to cope with post-natal anxiety, or the pressure to do everything right, particularly under the critical gaze of peers and social media. In theory the idea of a ‘mummune’ seems excellent, there is truth to the old adage, ‘it takes a village’, and Grace, Petra and Shelly, with a little advice from neighbour Christine, find a rhythm that benefits all of them, but maintaining it proves a little trickier than they expect.

When we are introduced to Grace, the central character, she appears to have it all – a beautiful beachside home, a handsome globe-trotting husband, two cherubic children, and a successful career as the author of four popular wholefood cookbooks – she lives a life carefully curated for Instagram. But when she unexpectedly falls pregnant with her third child, the facade begins to falter, and the pressure to maintain it threatens to break her. I felt desperately sorry for Grace who is so caught up in who she thinks she should be, that she’s lost who she is. Haschka does a great job of portraying Grace’s external, and internal struggles to meet the mythic standard that motherhood, in fact womanhood, is expected to achieve.

Of course the other two ‘mummune’ members, Petra and Shelly, share similar anxieties, though are far less consumed by them. Petra, Grace’s best friend since college, is too furious at her husband for not only gambling away their life savings but also for hitting her when she confronted him with the truth, and too focused on forging a life of her own to worry much about what anyone thinks. It was Shelly I probably had the most affinity for, not only because we share a name, but my eldest daughter was also born after a long labour (and then an emergency caesarean) and she too was not a ‘sleeper’, though unlike Shelly, I thankfully had a husband who could occasionally gave me a break. In terms of parenting philosophy however, I had/have much more in common with Grace’s neighbour, Christine. While she had twins, I had 3 children in 3 years (plus an elder child), so pragmatism was more important to me than perfectionism when they were all younger.

This is a strong debut from Haschka who captures the madness of modern motherhood. Well written, with relatable characters, and plenty of moments that made me laugh, cringe, and sigh in recognition, I really enjoyed reading Grace Under Pressure.

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Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

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GIVEAWAY

Courtesy Simon & Schuster Australia

I have 1 print edition of

Grace Under Pressure by Tori Haschka

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Please leave a comment on this post and

CLOSED

Congratulations Katherine

*PLEASE NOTE: Only Australian residents are eligible to enter*

Entries close 27th March 2021

The giveaway will be determined by a random drawing on March 28th and the winner will be notified by email within 48 hours

Giveaway: With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

I’m delighted to be able to offer you the chance to win With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan. With My Little Eye is a fascinating biography by Sandra Hogan of a suburban Australian family of spies. READ MY REVIEW HERE, then enter below.

Courtesy Allen & Unwin

I have 1 print edition of

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Please leave a comment on this post and then

ENTRY CLOSED

Congratulations Kate C

*PLEASE NOTE: Only Australian residents are eligible to enter*

Entries close 20th February 2021

The giveaway will be random drawing on February 21st and the winner will be notified by email within 48 hours

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Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review and Giveaway: The Sister’s Gift by Barbara Hannay

 

Title: The Sister’s Gift

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: August 4th 2020, Michael Joseph

Status: Read August 2020 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

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Two sisters, one baby and the best of intentions…

As a vibrant, young woman with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of her, Freya grants her sister, Pearl, the ultimate gift of motherhood. However, this comes at a hefty price – an unexpected rift in her family and the loss of the man she loves.

Decades later, Freya is divorced, childless and homeless, at rock bottom after losing everything she’s worked for. When her estranged niece, Billie, offers sanctuary, managing the family restaurant on beautiful Magnetic Island, Freya can hardly refuse.

Billie has never understood the tension between her mother and her aunt and now, with a newly broken heart, she is nursing a family secret of her own. All three women come together under the tropical Queensland skies, but can they let go of past regrets, or will old tensions tear them further apart?

By the bestselling author of Meet Me in Venice, this is a moving and inspiring novel in a stunning setting about choices and consequences and the redemptive power of love.

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My Thoughts:

 

After losing her husband, her career, and her home, an offer from Freya’s niece, Billie, to manage the family bistro on Magnetic Island while her parents, Pearl and Troy, are travelling, is a gift she can’t afford to refuse. Billie, recently returned from several years overseas and recovering from heartbreak, is happy when Freya accepts, even if her mother seems inexplicably wary of the two spending so much time together.

Unfolding from the perspectives of Freya and Billie, The Sister’s Gift by Barbara Hannay is a story of motherhood, secrets, and second chances.

At the heart of this novel is the secrecy surrounding the surrogacy arrangement shared by Freya and Pearl. Hannay’s portrayal of their complicated relationship is thoughtful and nuanced. The experience drove a wedge between the sisters, largely due to Pearl’s fears and insecurities about motherhood tangled with the remnants of sibling rivalry. Freya has never regretted her decision, though it came at a personal cost, but she has been disappointed by the distance between herself and her sister, and tried her best to maintain a relationship, at a distance, with Billie.

Freya’s return to Magnetic Island is inadvertently a catalyst for Billie learning the secret of her birth, but it also offers Freya a surprising opportunity for a second chance when her ex-fiancé, with whom she ended things in order to become Pearl’s surrogate, arrives at the island for the winter months. I sympathised easily with Freya and was pleased by the closeness she established with Billie, and the romance that developed between Freya and her old beau.

Billie has never understood the tension between her mother and aunt, but has always largely dismissed it as being due to her mother’s high-strung, anxious personality. It’s one of the reasons Billie keeps secrets from Pearl, though she can’t hide this latest one for long. Though somewhat impulsive and directionless, I liked Billie well enough, and thought her emotions related to events were portrayed authentically. What surprised me was the haste of her romantic relationship arc, I didn’t mind that Hannay developed one, but I didn’t think the timeline was believable given the circumstances.

In the end it’s the reveal of a secret Pearl is keeping from both Billie and Freya that leads to the sisters mending their rift. Though the plot points of the story are fairly predictable, they still offer emotional impact, with both heartwarming and poignant moments.

The Sister’s Gift is an engaging and pleasant read, and those who enjoy family drama with a happy ending will surely find it gratifying.

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GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of PenguinRandomHouse Australia,

I have 1 print edition of

The Sister’s Gift by Barbara Hannay

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Please leave a comment on this post and

Now Closed

*Congratulations Stell*

*PLEASE NOTE: Only Australian residents are eligible to enter*

Entries close September 1st, 2020

The giveaway will be random drawing on September 2nd and the winner will be notified by email within 48 hours

**********

Available to purchase from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

 

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