A Mother Forever is the moving story of one woman’s journey through the hardest trials of her life and how the love of friends and family pulls her through. From the bestselling author of The Woolworths Girls Elaine Everest, this book tells the tale of Ruby and how it all began . . .
1905: Ruby Caselton may only be twenty-five years old but she already has the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Heavily pregnant with her second child, penniless and exhausted, she is moving her family into a new home. The Caseltons left their last place when they couldn’t pay the rent, but Ruby’s husband Eddie has promised this will be a fresh start for them all. And Ruby desperately hopes that this time he will keep his word.
With five-year-old George at her feet and her mother having a cross word for everyone and everything, life is never dull at number thirteen Alexandra Road. It doesn’t take long before Eddie loses another job and once again hits the bottle. It’s up to Ruby to hold them all together, through thick and thin. She remembers the kind, caring man Eddie once was and just can’t give up on him entirely. What she doesn’t know is that Eddie has a secret, one so dark that he can’t bear to tell even Ruby . . .
Through Ruby’s grit and determination, she keeps food on the table and finds herself a community of neighbours on Alexandra Road. Stella, the matriarch from across the way, soon becomes a friend and confidante. She even dreams that Ruby will ditch the useless Eddie and take up with her eldest son, Frank. But when war breaks out in 1914, the heartbreaks and losses that follow will fracture their community, driving both Stella and Ruby to breaking point. Will their men ever return to them?
A Mother Forever is a moving but heartwarming story about the family we’re connected to through blood, but also the family we make for ourselves with neighbours and friends. A prequel to The Woolworths Girls, it can also be read as a compelling novel in its own right.
A warm, tender tale of friendship and love . . . sweet as a Woolies pick’n’mix – Milly Johnson on The Woolworths Girls
Excellent & Enthralling!
Another wonderful novel from the pen (laptop?) of Elaine Everest.
As Ruby arrives at her new home with her five year old son and her mother in tow, she hopes that this will be a house they can settle in. Having had to do many a moonlight flit due to unpaid rent, she needs her husband Eddie to knuckle down and stop losing jobs. As he turns to drink more and more, it falls to Ruby to provide for the family on her own. She can’t quite turn her back on Eddie though – she remembers his gentle, loving nature when they first met and keeps hoping that version will appear again one day. Making good friends with neighbours and being able to depend on that friendship keeps Ruby moving forward; her friend Stella hopes that one day Ruby and her eldest, Frank, will make a go of things. Then comes the outbreak of war in 1914 and things will never be the same again for families – and friends. It’s an uncertain life for the women waiting at home for the men who went to war.
I always know I’m in for a good, well-researched read when I being a book by this author, and this one is no different. I was interested to discover that this is a prequel to The Woolworth Girls as that is one I haven’t managed to fit into my list (yet). Ruby comes across as a strong woman at a time when Britain depended on strong women to keep the home fires burning, look after children, elderly parents, do their bit for the war by volunteering AND go out to work!
This is an enthralling story of a woman who doesn’t need to search for her sorrows yet digs her heels in and does anything and everything she can to stay in the home she loves. Deftly written with a fine cast of believable characters and scenarios, there is never a dull moment; everyone’s lives are cleverly entwined and there is always something to grab the reader’s attention. I particularly like that by the final word, every thread is neatly tied off leaving nothing to play on my mind. If you don’t normally read the author’s notes before and after the story, I would urge you to do so with this one – there are some very adroit points which can only add to the reader’s experience. An excellent novel which I’m happy to recommend and give 4.5*.
My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.
Tags: women’s historical fiction
- Format: ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook
- Size: 269 pages
- Publisher: Pan Macmillan
- Publication Date: 04 March 2021
- Book Links:
Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women’s magazine market.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry.
- Twitter: @ElaineEverest
- Facebook: @Elaine.Everest