Book Review: The Stepmothers’ Support Group by Sam Baker.

the-stepmothers-support-group-by-sam-baker-goodreadsNo. of Pages: 408 pages

Date Published: January 1, 2010 (first published August 20, 2009)

Publisher: HarperTorch

Setting: Present-day London

Alternative Title: The Other Mothers’ Club

Sorry for the long hiatus, guys. It has been a rather bumpy rollercoaster ride at the office and what with all the deadlines at work, I just couldn’t bring myself to do more writing at home. Also, because Chinese New Year is here and I just came back from a very eventful festive celebration and reunion at my dad’s hometown, I hadn’t been around to update my blog that much. But I do owe you all some book reviews now that I’ve finished two more books over the entire month of January.

The first of two books that I finished was The Stepmothers’ Support Group by Samantha ‘Sam’ Baker. To be honest, I never thought I’d actually read a book on parental guidance and children considering that I myself do not want any children (at the moment) nor do I feel ready to have any. But since this was loaned to me by a friend and recommended I guess, so I figured alright, why not I just give it a go?

And well, it wasn’t so bad after all.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

You can’t choose your family – but you can choose your friends! A heartfelt, warm and truthful novel about female friendship.

Eve has never imagined herself as a stepmother. But when she falls in love with Ian, he comes with a ready-made family of three children. And, to make matters worse, he’s a widower. The ghost of his glamorous and well known wife haunts them.

Clare, a teacher and single mother, is Eve’s best friend. She is the only person Eve can talk to about how on earth a journalist in her thirties can win round three wary children. But despite Clare’s years of practice with her own teenage daughter, it’s Lily, her younger sister, who provides the truly sympathetic ear.

Mel is sent along to Eve’s so-called ‘support group’ by a colleague. With a fledgling relationship and a new business to get off the ground, she has a very different set of pressures to the other women.

And Mandy is the stay-at-home mum, whose relationship comes with stepchildren, and who wants more than anything to stitch together a happy family life for herself, her kids and her new step-kids.

As a cup of coffee turns to a bottle of wine and the get-togethers become a regular fixture, conversations about new families evolve into ones about relationships, life and each woman’s deepest hopes and dreams. But the friendship is tested and feelings about lovers, husbands and step-children challenged when the five women are forced to confront new futures as well as unwelcome figures from the past…

About The Story

Personally, I’m in no position to talk about what it feels like to have a stepmother or about stepmothers in general since I come from a complete family. But from the way Hollywood portrays them and sometimes the media as well, it sounds as if stepmothers are a very bad lot and a wicked bunch of women hellbent on tearing apart the bonds between fathers and their children. But where Eve, Clare, Mandy, Melanie and Lily are concerned, there is no such thing as a wicked stepmother. And they are no wicked stepmonsters either. They are what you and me are in present time — different women from different backgrounds but with one thing in common: a stepmother link. They are either a stepmother already (Mandy), or want to be a stepmother (Melanie), or going to be a stepmother (Eve), or even had a stepmother in the past (Clare and Lily). Whatever it is, the stepmother persona had lingered over their heads.

The Stepmothers’ Support Group is an entertaining and poignant novel on what it means to form a family, become a parental figure, create new friendships and form attachments where you didn’t think was possible. The title of the book itself gives readers a clear idea on what they will read about in the novel. A chick-lit romance with kids thrown into the mix. The only difference is that the kids don’t often belong to both parents at once. I’m amazed that with so many families having step-parents and stepchildren, I’m surprised that it’s my first time coming across a book like this. Or perhaps there are others in the market but I never came across them.

What I Thought…

You don’t need to be a stepmother to enjoy a book like this and you don’t need to have children to understand the difficulties of being a parent. Just look around you; you are surrounded by strangers who are parents and your friends who have recently become parents. You just need to be a reader with the right set of emotions to enjoy this story of friendship, change and love.

The only thing I found ironic was like I mentioned above: I’m in no rush to have children nor do I feel like I want any (kudos to those who have and yes, I’m happy for you) but yet, here I am, reading this. And I did wonder if I’ll ever be ready to have one of my own. It’s on my mind but then again, so are many other things in life. Being a mother is a tough job but what happens if you’re a stepmother to someone else’s children? What if you had your own children from a previous marriage but you fall in love with someone else who also has his or her own children and all of you had to live under one roof? Oh boy. I also noticed one common theme in the book; that whenever there was a meeting, everyone would go to the nearest Starbucks, order coffees and exchange horror stepmother stories. Is Starbucks really that good?

So I thought the book kicked off a little slow at first but it wasn’t too bad once the action got in the way. I thought it was going to be another tearjerker novel with emergency alcohol and secrets on the forefront. But eventually the pace picked up a bit and things started falling into place, it started to look positive for the book too. And I guess when you think about it, stepmothers can be stepmonsters. Some of them though. Not everyone.

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