The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publishing Date: 1st December 2016
Source: Received from the author in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 350
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.
Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.
But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.
Even though I haven’t read an Amanda Prowse book for a long time now, I do remember that all of the novels that I had a pleasure to read made a great impact on me and I still know that I cried crocodile tears when reading them, so I was guessing what’s in store for me when starting “The Food of Love”. The book started slowly, more like your usual chick – lit book and there came a moment that I began to feel nervous, as it seemed that in fact nothing is happening – the Braithwaites, Freya and Lockie and their two daughters lead perfectly normal lives, sometimes they are struggling money – wise, sometimes it’s better, but what was very clear was that they love each other. However, soon it became clear that there is a second layer to this story, that something has happened, because at the end of each chapter the family is writing letters to one of their member, and it looks like they don’t have a lot of time left – but what has happened and what’s going to happen when they time is over?
This book has awoken millions of feelings in me. Yes, at the beginning I wasn’t too sure, as it started relatively slowly, and then Freya made me feel so, so annoyed, and I also wasn’t sure if I’m right because guys, I thought I was supposed to feel sorry for Lexi, and what I felt was anger – a hot, red anger that she’s so weak, that she’s so stubborn, that she is the one who doesn’t want to stop, and in my own eyes I felt like a monster – but when I finished this book, I was in a mess and I needed time to sort out my feelings, which is always a sign of a good book! What’s more, I am still thinking about it. The characters just got under my skin, they are unforgettable and the realistic way the story was written have just wowed me over.
Maybe because it is probably my first book about anorexia it really made an impact on me. Amanda Prowse has just got under Lexi’s skin and in a very distinctive, clear and detailed way showed us what she felt and what it was like for her and her family, how they all felt and how much it influenced their lives.
But to be honest, this book could easily be a less star – rating read – because of Freya. I know how strong mother’s feelings are but there comes a moment when you need to realise that your child’s life is in danger and it’s up to you to save it. As much as I fell for her and felt with her, I also wanted to slap her, shake her and tell her to wake up and that it’s not a time to wonder if Lexi will still love her, is she will forgive her, it is time to act! I was in fact wondering if it’s at all possible that the doctors didn’t force the family to put Lexi in hospital, seeing that her life was so in danger – I don’t know if there are any laws and if there is a moment that they can act even against family’s wishes. To be honest, now, in perspective, I am not sure how Freya could watch her daughter to lose weight, hair, bones and will to live and not do anything, only hope that love will mend everything. Love is powerful, but it’s not everything in such cases. I know how hard it can be to be a mum, but this all went just too far. And the other aspect of Freya – she herself was also obsessed with food and she belittled people who were not controlling their appetite, or was dismissively talking about bigger people eating fast food – was this what Lexi noticed and remembered? On the other hand, as a mother, I have a feeling that nobody can do my job as well as I do it, so I also felt sympathy with Freya. Yes, I am totally torn when it comes to this woman. But I loved the Braithwaites as a family – their banter, the way they were around each other and it was painful to see how each of them was affected by the illness. Freya, Lockie, Lexi’s sister Charlotte… Thanks to the author I had a feeling that together with them I am experiencing the pain, the novelty of this all, the fear, anger and other feelings and emotions. I also felt so sorry for them with Freya reacting like this, being obsessed to solve the problem all by herself because “she’s Lexi’s mum” – hello? Lexi’s dad and sister wanted to help as well, and maybe they were to do it much better but they just didn’t get a chance. Lockie’s frustration was so palpable and so heart – breaking and I was awestruck that he lasted for so long, and my heart went to Charlotte, it was so, so tough for her, to see the sister that she loved so much suddenly deteriorating, but also finding herself neglected.
But even with Freya, this book gave me the shivers and I am praying every day that a disease like this will never afflict my family, and I can’t stop thinking about the book and the characters, which is always a sign of a great book. I admired the passages where the author seemed to just got into Lexi’s head, as all the feelings and fears were captured in an incredibly realistic way, brutally honestly showing how out of control she could be – not only over her body, but also her mind. It was shocking. Truly shocking.
“The Food of Love” is a powerful, emotional rollercoaster, and once we feel hope and in the next second we feel hopeless and powerless, full of anger and incomprehension how powerful this horrifying disease is. The author has, in a very detailed way, showed the readers the lengths people suffer from this illness, not only the victims of it, but also their families and beloved ones. It is a slow burner that then turns into a real page turner. It is unforgettable and it is incredibly important. Amanda Prowse is a very skilled storyteller and she brought all the characters, dialogues and situations to life. She showed the other side to an ordinary and happy life, the harsh reality and how to face to it. It is a great story about unconditional love, honesty and the great importance of a supporting family, but it’s also about being able to admit defeat and ask for help. A very important read that couldn’t be missed!