All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Hindsight – Sarah Belle

on July 1, 2013

HindsightHindsight
Sarah Belle
Harlequin Escape
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Juliette is a very successful PR agent, running her own business. She recently received a very lucrative contract from Big Al, a sports agent who handles over 50 football stars and now it’s Juliette’s job to promote them and clean up their messes and sweep them under the carpet. Receiving this new contract has come at a cost though – Juliette’s husband Chris is fed up with her working all the hours in the day and she’s let her children down time and time again by missing birthdays and events. When Juliette works through her son Ethan’s school concert, Chris tells her to leave by morning and not come back. Attacking the vodka, Juliette falls and hits her head….

….And wakes up in 1961. Many details are still the same – she’s the same age, she’s married to Chris, they live in the same house. But Juliette is a 1960’s housewife. Her days are filled with cooking, cleaning, sewing and washing. She doesn’t work, she barely escapes the house. Her modern technology is gone, so are her miracles of plastic surgery, extensive hairdresser treatments, the best make up and fillers money can buy and her wardrobe full of stylish clothes. Instead Juliette finds herself living a simple, frugal life that revolves around her home and family.

At first it’s almost a nightmare – why on earth does Chris expect her to rise at some ungodly hour and prepare his breakfast when he’s a grown man perfectly capable of cooking two pieces of bread? But as Juliette spends more and more time in this 1960’s lifestyle, she begins to see the benefits, not just at home but in her newfound wider community too. Her street is a friendly one with neighbours popping over to help, always there when you need them. Basic tasks may be harder, but things are simpler and there’s a warmth and satisfaction from spending time with family. Juliette begins to wonder if she didn’t get it wrong in her real life…and that maybe, she might want to stay in this new one.

I knew I wanted to read this desperately as soon as I read the synopsis. I love stories like this and I was really looking forward to being able to get stuck into this one. Juliette is the absolute consummate workaholic – she’s always late home, dashing off from family get togethers and missing out on things to solve the next big PR crisis. She’s driven to work, determined to prove herself and not repeat a cycle of failure. She’s not adept at saying no so she’s never really been able to get the work-life balance right. Since starting her own business and watching it take off, Juliette has been working more and more. The contract of Big Al’s is a demanding one and her devotion to it ends in her husband Chris ending their marriage.

When Juliette wakes up in 1961, it’s a different world. I am a stay at home mother, but I found that I could really connect with Juliette because I’m not particularly what you’d call domestic. I don’t like cooking, in fact my husband does almost all cooking. My idea of hell is putting wet clothes through a wringer and spending all day making a casserole to serve when the man gets home from work and then spending the rest of the night doing the dishes and making his lunch for tomorrow. Many things are different in 1961, there’s little equality of labour in the home and the Chris of 1961 leaves any and all parenting and domestic chores to a very inept Juliette. There are very few cars, very few phones, only black and white television and Juliette is forced to suffer through a much simpler wardrobe and beauty routine. Her “fall” into 1961 explains her memory loss to the people in her life there but each time Juliette forgets something or says something outrageous (perhaps totally acceptable in 2013 but not 1961) people mutter ominously about the notorious Kew Asylum. Juliette has to adjust to this new, strange life quickly or perhaps find herself incarcerated as a lunatic.

It’s a learning curve for Juliette in 1961 and she makes a lot of mistakes. It takes her a while to settle into the different routine, to be the one at home instead of out at work all day. But she finds that it has its own rewards in that she has the time to make real friends and connect with her husband and members of their family. She learns to slow down, just breathe and realise that you don’t have to work all the hours under the sun to be considered a success. That there are other ways in which you can enrich your life and be rewarded and not fear that you will be a failure. This to me was interesting – as a mother, there’s always the work/stay at home debate and for some, working is an achievement they cannot give up (or cannot afford to) but often it does come at a cost. And vice versa, staying at home to be a mother can mean missing out on a lot career and achievement wise. There are no real right or wrong answers, just what’s right or wrong for the individual, which is something Juliette begins to learn as she spends longer and longer in the 1961 life. There are other ways that she can feel accomplished and that working 18 hours a day doesn’t need to define her as someone who will not fail. The fact that she has children and a husband who love her and want her to spend time with them is not a hindrance to her success as a person.

Sometimes funny and sometimes sad and endearing, this is a greatly balanced and well written read that makes you think about what is important to you in the long run in life.

8/10

Book #162 of 2013

AWW2013

Hindsight is the 69th novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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One response to “Hindsight – Sarah Belle

  1. Wow, the premise of this book really had me scratching my head. I was shocked by the sudden rather…paranormal turn it took 😛 That said, it sounds absolutely fascinating! I love any story that incorporates the past, particularly that of the 1950’s and 1960’s as that’s always been of a particular interest to me. I’ve added this book to my ‘to-be-read’ list immediately as it sound like it’s right up my alley!

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