I am over the moon to be today’s stop on Diane Chandler’s Moondance blog tour!
Blackbird Digital Books are one of my favourite publishers so I jumped at the chance to read and review Moondance.
Diane’s previous novel, The Road To Donetsk was the WINNER OF THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE FOR FICTION 2015/16 don’t you know!
I have my review to share with you, as well as a Q&A with Diane herself and a giveaway, so keep reading…..
(written 20th October)
I finished Moondance a few days ago now and I originally awarded it 4 stars on Goodreads, but I think I’m going to have to change it to 5 stars because I have thought about (and talked about) this book a lot over the last few days. Now I can’t really think of a reason why it shouldn’t be a 5 star read.
My original reason for only awarding 4 stars was that I didn’t like Catriona, the main character. I didn’t warm to her at all, unfortunately. She is not someone I could imagine myself being friends with. Mainly because I imagine she would be the type of woman to look down on someone like me. I am not an ambitious person. I am a housewife and I have been a stay at home mum since I was pregnant with my first baby (who is now 16). Before that I was a carer in an elderly residential home. I was clever and achieved good grades at school and college, but I never had any big career goals. I knew I would want my children young, if possible, and I knew I would want to be the one at home, bringing them up myself when I did. I am one of those “fat housewives” who I imagine someone like Cat would have absolutely no respect for. I have huge respect for women who manage a career and a family, but it doesn’t make them better people. Each to their own. Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent……
I could not relate to Cat in any way, but I did feel sorry that she was unable to conceive naturally. I can only imagine how heartbreaking that must be. I did feel, however, that in Cat’s case she was more focused, initially, on getting pregnant to prove to herself and the world that she could because she had never failed at anything in her life before. She is a very self-centred character who obviously thinks very highly of herself and is very used to getting exactly what she wants, when she wants it, including her successful career and her husband, Dom. When she decides the time is right to fit having a baby into her busy schedule, she is naturally disturbed by the fact that it’s going to be more of a battle than she anticipated. Of course, what she goes through is emotionally and physically difficult, but she has no sympathy for the effect it is having on Dom. It’s all about her and what she is going through. I think we’re all guilty though of neglecting the Dads when it comes to babies, however easy their conception is. I know my husband felt particularly helpless when I had our two. They have no control over what is happening to us which I imagine must be quite overwhelming. I can’t say I really liked Dom either, but I did kind of feel sorry for him.
I have a very close relationship with my mother, so Cat’s dislike of her mother was very odd to me also, although I am aware that many families aren’t close. It just highlighted Cat’s conceitedness (is that even a word?) further, for me.
I know I’m rambling (sorry), but there are so many thoughts going around my head about this book and Catriona really got under my skin.
The front cover alone, to me, gives the impression that this might be a luvvy duvvy story about a devoted couple and their struggle to have a baby, with a typical happy ending, but it isn’t like that at all. It’s a much more complex story exploring the emotions surrounding infertility, marriage, family relationships and friendship.
I think my point is going to have to be that although I didn’t particularly connect with the characters, I found their story completely captivating! As much as Cat’s selfish ways annoyed me throughout the story, I still wanted her to achieve her dream of becoming a mother. It’s so brilliantly written that there is no way I could not have read until the end. I think it’s a story that will stay with me for a long time to come and one I will no doubt talk about often.
Surely a book that kept me hooked to the very last page, despite not really liking the characters, is worthy of a full 5 stars!?
I urge you to read it for yourself. I’d be interested to know what you think.
Many thanks to Blackbird Digital Books for my ARC of Moondance. I hope it achieves the success it deserves.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m Derby born and bred, but lived abroad in Brussels for many years working in overseas aid, until I got homesick and came to live in London. I gave up work when I was 38 to focus on trying to conceive. My husband Nick and I ended up going through IVF which was successful on our 4th cycle and my daughter Maddie was born. Since then I’ve been part-time mum / part-time writer / part-time cushion plumper (though tend to neglect the domestic goddess bit). My first novel, The Road to Donetsk, came out in 2015 and Moondance is my second – although I actually wrote the first draft ten years ago when IVF was fresh in my mind.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Both novels draw on my personal experience, a mix of memories, research and imagination, but both are pure fiction. The Road to Donetsk is set in Ukraine 20 years ago just after the fall of communism and is about a naive and idealistic young woman who wants to save the world and goes to Ukraine to work on an aid programme. She’s not me – but some claim to have seen a resemblance! Moondance is about a high-flying career woman who finds herself and her relationship unravelling as she battles through IVF. Again, it draws heavily on my personal experience of the physical and emotional impact of IVF, but again it is pure fiction. Cat is not me – though I did have fun writing her, as she’s not entirely likeable! I set myself the task of trying to create and sustain empathy for her despite this.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I guess some of them are loosely a mish-mash of people I’ve known many years ago, or even just met fleetingly. Physically I usually have someone in mind. For example, Dom with his tight blond locks and flushed cheeks, looks like an ex-fling from university days!
How do you pick your characters names?
Good question. Cat, I think because of the feline connotation – I imagine her drawing her claws out. In The Road to Donetsk I took many Ukrainian names from old business cards.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Well it’s a real passion. When I’m writing I don’t notice the time passing. It’s like wearing one of those virtual reality helmuts and going into a scene, walking round, seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling what I see.
Do you have a favourite author?
I do love Ian McEwan, as I think he can turn his hand to any subject and pull it off. At home I have an oil painting depicting the spines of my favourite twenty books, created by an artist friend and a gift from my husband for a special birthday.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would love to meet Jojo Moyes and ask her to tell me about her journey as an author from writing her first novels to arriving at the incredible Me Before You. I sobbed so much when reading that book.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes … Enid Blyton.
When did you start to write?
I began writing about 15 years ago. I have a first novel in a drawer which will never see the light of day! I hope I’ve progressed somewhat since then.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I would not have ended Gone Girl as she did. If it’s not a spoiler (well it clearly is…) I would have had the guy put her away or something worse – and not stay with her. I found that upsetting and creepy. But then I guess I was meant to.
What are you working on right now?
I have written about three pages of a new idea. Am looking forward to sitting down and putting that virtual reality helmet on any day now.
Do you have a new release due?
Moondance is published on 1st November – to coincide with National Fertility Awareness Week. The National Fertility Network are an amazing organization which supports couples struggling to conceive with its helplines and local support groups http://www.infertilitynetworkuk.com
How can readers keep in touch with you?
And thank you so much for the interview!
Many thanks to Diane for taking the time to answer my questions and to Blackbird Digital Books for including me in the Moondance blog tour.
Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books (1st November 2016)
Bittersweet, at times funny, and always emotionally raw, this is by far the most moving and honest novel you’ll ever read about IVF and its impact on a marriage.
How can you long for someone who doesn’t exist?
Cat has always been in control of her life. Happily married to Dom, but flying high as a political lobbyist, she dismisses his desire to start a family … until she herself is ready.
But what if it is then too late?
Complex and selfish, intelligent and open, if she is to succeed in having that elusive child, Cat must battle through gruelling fertility treatment and the emotional strain it places on her marriage. By her side, Dom, easygoing and ever the optimist, finds that he too risks being run ragged by their journey.
Both are forced to come to terms with their longing for a baby against the blitz on a relationship tested like never before.
By the winner of The People’s Book Prize for Fiction 2016
A rare, raw, engaging fictional account of the traumas of infertility told with frankness and humour.
Buy your copy HERE
I have 3 digital copies of Moondance to giveaway, courtesy of Blackbird Digital Books. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and I will be pick three winners at random!
Make sure you catch up with and follow the rest of this fab blog tour…..