By Ekta R. Garg
September 13, 2017
Genre: Women’s fiction
Release date: Aug. 22, 2017
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A housewife finds out in the hardest way possible that her family has gone bankrupt. She and her children lose all the tangible comforts of luxury, and they will need to dig deep to find the strength to survive. Author Amanda Prowse takes readers from a plush life to the throes of poverty while balancing both with aplomb in the realistic and touching novel The Art of Hiding.
Nina McCarrick lives a charmed life. She has two sons who attend one of the most upscale schools in their town of Bath, England, and Finn, her husband, runs his own contractor firm, McCarrick Construction. Her current home is a far cry from her humble beginnings in Southampton where her father struggled to put food on the table after her mother died. Nina’s life could offer movie makers plenty of fodder for a typical rags-to-riches story with a whirlwind romance to boot. When Nina met Finn on a construction site, she knew she didn’t want to be with anyone else.
Now, all these years later, her life in Southampton seems like it happened to another person. Never mind that Nina doesn’t always feel like she fits in with the upper crust society of Bath. Her two children, Finn, and the gorgeous home they all share more than make up for any shortcomings.
Then, in a moment, everything changes. Nina receives the phone call no wife wants to get. Finn has gotten into a car accident and died. In the days that follow, Nina learns that that’s just the beginning of the bad news. McCarrick Construction had begun bleeding money in the months leading up to Finn’s accident. Nina begins fielding calls from a variety of people and organizations that want their bills paid in full to the collective sum of eight million pounds.
Like most princesses in classic fairy tales, Nina had no clue about any of Finn’s financial dealings and struggles. He always reassured her that he had everything under control, and she never thought about asking for details. Now that Finn is gone, Nina must handle the most difficult aspect of their failing business all by herself: its dissolution.
The bank forecloses on the house, leaving Nina and the boys without a home. Faced with no other prospects for help, Nina calls her sister, Tiggy, and asks if she can move back to Southampton. Tiggy agrees without hesitation, and Nina and her kids move into a cramped two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen the size of a closet and with fears the size of the entire country.
Years earlier Nina had ambitions to become a nurse, but after marrying Finn she let herself get swept away with the idea of being a society wife. Now she’s strapped for cash and has to find a way to support herself and her family. As she begins searching for any form of employment, Nina discovers that she does, in fact, have what it takes to fight back one day and one job application at a time.
Author Amanda Prowse doesn’t hesitate to drill into the harshest details of Nina’s situation. Even in this day and age, Prowse asserts through Nina, some women allow their partners to run the most important matters of the household. Nina reacts in a way that will feel real to readers. She doesn’t come up with sunny platitudes and greeting card sayings to face her abrupt change in lifestyle; instead she cries and argues and in one memorable scene even throws up her latest meal. Nina’s helplessness will shock readers because they will be able to see shades of themselves in her.
Her move to Bath from Southampton, too, rings true. Not once does Prowse let Nina have anything too easy. The book ends on an optimistic note, true, but Nina fights with every ounce of energy to earn that ending. By the time the last chapter begins, readers will be ready to cheer Nina on to a better life. Even in that better life, though, Prowse makes no promises. The setup for an improvement in her situation comes because of an internal change in Nina, not another dramatic change in her circumstances.
A welcome change from the typical British novels set in and immediately around London, readers will definitely want to Bookmark The Art of Hiding.