Be My Baby
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Australian Anna is living the life in London working as a gossip columnist getting scoops on celebrities. She lives with her boyfriend, television presenter Finn Cassidy and the two have been together for years. The only glitch in Anna’s life is the Parcel Nazi next door, who gets irate every time Anna’s newest pair of shoes is delivered to his door when no one is home at her place.
Then Anna’s best friend Helena turns up from Australia with six month old Ivy in tow. Helena is having trouble coping and her solution is to leave Ivy with Anna and take off to Scotland to sort her head out. Anna is left quite literally holding the baby with an unsympathetic and unsupportive partner who is about to nip off to another city for an exciting job. Anna doesn’t know anything about looking after children – it’s not something she’s factored into her life yet. But left with literally no choice than to be a parent to Ivy, she is forced to take a crash course in learning to care for a baby as well as juggling her job, where there is a shark circling looking to take her position every day.
To Anna’s surprise, help comes in the form of Luke the Parcel Nazi – now not quite as angry as he has been in previous interactions. He appears willing to always lend a hand with Ivy and listen to Anna when she’s having a meltdown about whether or not what she’s doing is possibly damaging Ivy. With Helena off in Scotland and staying out of contact and Finn in Belfast doing who only knows what, Luke proves to be a rock Anna needs. When Finn comes back with a crazy proposal, Anna is going to have to sit down and think about what and who she really wants in life.
Lately I have been kind of craving chick-lit/romance stories and I thought this one would be perfect! I ended up reading it in one sitting and although I loved one part of the story (the whole Anna/Finn/Luke/Ivy situation) there’s no denying that the character of Helena made me utterly stabby. I’m a mother – I have 2 kids and although I’m not a single mother I’ve had my times flying solo, my husband works nights and I’ve supported a family member who was a single mother at 17. I get how hard it can be to cope. I get how hard it can be to be isolated. Whilst I applauded Helena for recognising that she wasn’t coping and needed help….the way in which she chose to deal with it, I couldn’t really get on board with. Firstly, turning up on your best friend’s doorstep without even warning her that you’re coming and asking her to take your baby is wrong but secondly, doing a midnight flit leaving with her no supplies and even less clue is….so much worse. I felt so sorry for Anna, it would be incredibly daunting to be handed a baby when you have pretty much no experience with them at all. And for Ivy! At six months, a baby is well able to recognise those in its life… and when people are gone. It’s lucky and also sort of convenient that Ivy copes relatively well with her new surroundings and carer. And I have to admit, I didn’t really see what Helena’s Scotland trip was really doing to be able to help her cope with being a parent to Ivy. There was a bit with an eccentric aunt and some super-swift romance with a young teacher that she met but ultimately the fact that she ran away and then didn’t contact Anna for the longest time made Helena pretty much irredeemable for me. And then when she did return, the first thing she did was attack Anna for not looking after Ivy well enough even though she had absolutely no clue what sort of job Anna had done. She also had no idea the personal cost to Anna of looking after Ivy and when Anna actually told her, she didn’t really seem to care at all. I’m not sure if Helena is supposed to have depression/post-natal depression or is just stressed out and not coping. If it’s the former then it’s resolved far too simplistically and easy.
Fortunately I enjoyed Anna and her drama much more. She’s a flawed character as well, she’s allowed herself to slip into a job she doesn’t really enjoy, ferreting out celebrity secrets and making up what information she can’t get. She’s a bit superficial and shallow but she does really step up when Ivy is left with her. She could’ve called Helena’s parents and demanded they come and take Ivy but she was well aware that Helena’s mother was not supportive and probably wasn’t the best option, although that was something else that wasn’t satisfactorily resolved. Instead Anna rolls up her sleeves, takes some leave from her job and does the best that she can for Ivy utilising one of her friends who is a mother and Luke from next door who has ‘some experience with children’. I loved Luke and I loved the way he and Anna went from sparring neighbours who get off on the wrong foot with each other to friends….and potentially more. Anna and Finn have been experiencing trouble for a while although both of them seem adept at ignoring it and pretending all is fine until he takes a job in Belfast without even bothering to tell her that it’s on the table. Luke becomes Anna’s support and friend and shoulder to cry on and sympathetic ear. I loved Luke – I wish this book had much more Luke and less Finn. The narrative is split 3 ways between Anna, Helena and Finn being a ginormous tool in Belfast struggling to stay firm against the advances of his hot producer. I just wanted to stay with Anna all of the time and find out how things were going for her. Helena’s sojourn to Scotland mostly only made me mad and Finn….well. The less said about him the better!
A fun read – especially watching Anna evolve with Ivy and realise that she doesn’t need Finn (or anyone else really) to validate her existence. I wish there’d been a little more romance with Luke, that did feel a bit rushed at the end but the set up was there.
Book #134 of 2014
Be My Baby is book #50 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014. Halfway through my rough goal set for myself.