review published on February 6, 2014. Reviewed by Cath Sell
Nudge Reviewer Rating:
Picture this: dank, dreary and overcast day; energy levels zero and what is needed is a novel that makes you feel warm, where smiles threaten to break out and you feel like even the underdog can win the day.
This is one of those books.
Beautiful Day is the story of harassed and unhappy Rachel, mother of three, divorced and having to start working again. Her life appears chaotic (yet reasonably familiar!) and she lurches from one mini disaster to another. Add to this the fact her husband left her for a newer, younger model who her children obviously adore and the daily frisson begins.
Her new job is working in a residential home caring for adults with learning disabilities. I really enjoyed this aspect of Anthony’s novel. There is a lot of laughter and tears, with the frustration at the system well portrayed. I would hazard a guess that the time the author worked in this sector was pre-safeguarding days from some of the escapades. Not a lot of risk-assessments were undertaken in this home considering the outings. Realistically it is unlikely Rachel would ever have that amount of working time to devote solely to Philip but these are only little quibbles. However this time is absolutely necessary for the love to grow between them. It shows happiness doesn’t just appear in one form. Likewise love. The team at the home were an interesting mix, but that’s what you find in this sector, and I enjoyed reading about these characters especially the ones Anthony fleshed out. The team dynamics was interesting as it shifted in the story. More than those I enjoyed the different residents portrayed – these I thought were well done, realistic but with empathy and this book should be read by every ‘Scott’ to move them into ‘Rob’ mode.
Alongside the new and demanding job and the daily trials of family life we meet an au-pair that hardly ever engages with the family, the beloved mother-in-law, who hasn’t talked to her son since the separation and the two best friends a girl could have. (Many readers will recognise the school scenes especially the fraught meetings with RebeccaClassRep)
Not wanting to spoil the story and it twists and turns, and despite all the imperfections and issues that the world throws at us or we carry around, this book delivers what it says on the cover – ‘Beautiful Day’.
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor