What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie? Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels. Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind. But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life. Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.
Previous Book: 'Picking Up the Pieces', published 10th January 2023'.
Latest Book: 'All Good Things', published 15th August 2023.
Next Book: 'Very Very Lucky' published 9th January 2024.
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty-nine novels, two non-fiction titles and nine novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles 'What Have I Done?', 'Perfect Daughter', 'My Husband's Wife', 'The Girl in the Corner' and ‘The Things I Know’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.
A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda has appeared on numerous shows where her views on family and social issues strike a chord with viewers. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national and independent Radio stations including LBC, Times Radio and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, 'A Mother's Story' won the coveted Sainsbury's eBook of the year Award and she has had two books selected as World Book Night titles, 'Perfect Daughter' in 2016 and 'The Boy Between' in 2022.
Amanda is a huge supporter of libraries and having become a proud ambassador for The Reading Agency, works tirelessly to promote reading, especially in disadvantaged areas. Amanda's ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can't possibly read another book until the memory fades...
Praise for Amanda Prowse:
'A powerful and emotional work of fiction' - Piers Morgan
'Deeply moving and emotional, Amanda Prowse handles her explosive subjects with delicate skill' - Daily Mail
'Uplifting and positive, but you will still need a box of tissues' - Hello!
'A gut-wrenching and absolutely brilliant read' - The Irish Sun
'You'll fall in love with this...' - Cosmopolitan
'Deeply moving and eye opening. Powerful and emotional drama that packs a real punch.' - Heat
4 out of 5 stars to The Art of Hiding, a family drama novel published in July 2017 and written by Amanda Prowse. I adored this book and am so glad I read it; let's get right into the review.
Why This Book A few months ago, I'd finished reading 'The Idea of You,' by this author. I really enjoyed the book, and when 'The Art of Hiding' showed up on my NetGalley feed, I had to request it. I forgot that they approved my request until last week, when I went to select whatever was next to be published as my next book to start reading. I'd been so busy writing my own novel, I missed the publish date for this one. So I quickly read it in 2+ days to get caught up.
Plot, Characters & Setting Nina McCarrick, a mid-30s mother of two boys, 10 and 14, lives a wonderful life on a beautiful Southampton, England estate. That is, until her husband unexpectedly dies and she learns all was not what he'd been telling her. Suddenly losing her life high up on the hill, she's forced to turn to all her friends and family for assistance. One person takes her in, helping re-build a life for both Nina and the boys. Nina begins to learn the difference between losing your own identity and being part of a married couple. Sometimes, it isn't a good idea to give up control of all aspects of your life, as when it comes crashing down, you'll have no idea what to expect.
Approach & Style I read this novel through Kindle Reader on my iPad over the course of two and a half days. It is about 300 pages long, divided into 15 chapters, all told from Nina's perpsective in third person point of view. The language is simple but meaningful; it reads itself as you feel immersed in the world Prowse has created for her readers. You could probably read this all in one day over 4 to 5 hours if you kept focused, and it would definitely be an enjoyable read.
Strengths Prowse tells intricate family stories full of complexity and drama; not so much with everyone around the main characters, but within their small family unit. I felt the same way about one of her other books, and I've now come to realize this is her style; this is who the author is and what she excels at.
Nina is easy to relate with, given she is a new widow and has young boys to care for. She has no job, her skills are mostly outdated according to anyone she runs into. You immediately feel a strong connection with the woman, wanting to see her succeed. She's a wonderful mother. She doesn't sugarcoat the truth either. She dances around it a bit, hoping not to devastate her children, but she also knows hiding their situation will do more harm than good.
It's not a suspense story, yet I only put it down because it was midnight and had to wake up early the next morning. You feel as though the events unfold right in your own living room as you are reading, and simply do not want to miss a moment of the beauty and pain inside this family.
Concerns Very little with this book. It wasn't a huge and amazing story that captures a tremendous amount of ground. It's simple and thought-provoking. I felt it could have used a little more clarity around the death of the father and the days leading up to it. At the same time, it all came as a shock to Nina, so why shouldn't it come as a shock to readers, too. But in the end, I would have connected a bit more strongly if I had some current history. Just a smidge.
On occasion, the relationship Nina had with others felt a bit fake. I thought it was necessary to the plot in some places, but it was a little too much in other places. Sometimes the balance between her being a lonely and hidden wife versus a lonely and hidden widow losing everything wasn't as clear as I'd have liked it to be. A few extra paragraphs explaining how she interacted with her 'friends' before she became a widow might have helped give it more substance and a range between the two people she needed to be during the course of the book. I also think her 'lows' weren't low enough, meaning she needed to struggle more in finding a job, not being able to pay bills. There was some of this impact, but a few things were a little too hunky dory for my taste.
Final Thoughts Amanda Prowse is quickly becoming 1 of my top 10 favorite authors. I actually marked five more of her books as 'to-read' today since I've read two and given then both 4's. I'm going to search NetGalley after I post this review to see if I can get my greedy little hands on more. This woman can really write stories that straddle that line between heartbreak and the promise of a better day.
About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Everything in Nina McCarrick’s life is going swell. She loves her life, her husband and her sons, Connor and Declan, who go to a posh school system. Her husband’s job is uber-successful and they live a grand life. And then it all comes crashing down. Literally. Nina gets a phone call. One no one ever wants to receive. There has been an accident. Her husband, Finn, is gone. And as it turns out, he wasn’t uber-successful after all. Unbeknownst to her, he had lost his business, and he had amassed a ton of debt. As in Eight-Million Pounds of Debt. And Nina had no idea whatsoever. And now, she is left to clean up the mess and start over. Yet she has no job or education and has no idea what to do.
Moving away from their old life and finding a job is the only way. With more than just a bit of resentment, Nina and her boys return to Nina’s rundown hometown, and to her sister, Tiggy. It is there, that Nina finds more than she bargained for. Left with no choice, Nina finds strength and resilience and a sense of self.
Amanda Prowse’s “The Art of Healing” is a sweet, well written, easy to read novel about family, loss and healing.
Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Amanda Prowse for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Nina McCarrick was a typical homemaker and soccer mom that spent all her time taking care of her kids and family, that is until the day her husband was involved in a horrible accident that took his life. Dealing with his loss was bad enough for Nina and the kids but shortly after her husband passed away Nina finds that their finances were not what she had thought they were.
Left alone to raise the kids with no job and no savings Nina helplessly has to watch as their possessions get taken away. Without any where else to turn Nina packs up what was left of the luxurious life she had once known and heads to Southampton to the rundown area she grew up in and the sister she had left behind when setting out for her new life with her husband that is now gone and she wonders if she ever knew at all.
The Art of Hiding is actually the first book that I've read by Amanda Prowse although I've noticed her work before but just hadn't taken the time to read any. Being an established author with so many books in print I went into this one expecting to enjoy it and thankfully I really did.
The story in this book starts off a rather sad one with the family being torn apart with the loss of Nina's husband and you can't help but feel for her and the kids. But what I enjoyed the most was the growth that was shown in overcoming so many obstacles afterward instead of just giving up. I found this one inspirational and quite compelling to read and will certainly look for more work by this author in the future.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
Lovely, emotional, and thought provoking. It's a bit of a riches to rags (well, not quite rags) story. The main character is very hard to identify with at times, but I still found myself rooting for her. The older child was quite bratty throughout most of the book. They're all going through something awful, but there were times I wished Nina would call him out on his selfishness! The disrespect he showed her bothered me, but he evolves during the story along with the rest of the characters.
Nina lives a bit of a sheltered life. Her husband works, she stays home. She is responsible for taking the kids to and from school. She doesn't have any real friends. Her life completely revolves around her family and her home... and what an impressive home that is! Her husband has been very successful, and they've never wanted for money. When she needed it, it was given to her. They never discussed finances or business, she didn't pay any bills or know the passwords to the accounts or computers. That is eventually her downfall.
When husband Finn dies suddenly in a car accident, the family is bereft. They have no time to grieve before the rug is pulled out from underneath them... literally. The business was down the tubes, and Finn had borrowed heavily to try to keep it afloat. They all must say goodbye to the fancy school the boys have attended since they were old enough, the immense house, the car, the extravagant furnishings and appliances... everything. Nina is left with practically nothing but a debt of over eight million pounds.
In recent years Nina barely saw her big sister Tiggy, but the woman still rushes to her side when she hears of the terrible news, offering help. Nina brushes it off, but soon realizes she actually does need someone to lean on. Tiggy doesn't have money to give, but she's willing to help in any way she can. Nina moves her boys back to the town she grew up in. Nina knows poverty, as she lived through it in the beginning of her life, before Finn swept her away. Her boys don't, and they are dismayed. Nina too has her world rocked, never thinking she would return to this kind of life.
Nina scrambles to find a job to pay the rent for their tiny little apartment and keep food on the table, often sacrificing her own meals so her boys can have full stomachs. She just sees this as a means to an end, hoping to pull herself back up into her old world eventually. With help from Tiggy, she might start to see things in a new light.
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Lake Union Publishing, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
The Art of Hiding is a hard hitting, thought provoking and moving story.
Nina's husband Finn has been tragically killed in an accident, throwing her life into utter turmoil. Her two sons, Connor and Declan doted on their father and they all lived a comfortable life of luxury in Bath, in a beautiful farmhouse, private school for the boys, luxury cars, and the finer things in life. All a long way from Nina's childhood on a council estate in Southampton. Marrying the self made Finn, who told her she wouldn't need to ever worry about money, hunger, discomfort, displacement or finances ever again, was a relief to Nina after her hard upbringing. Finn took control of all the household finances; mortgage, banking, credit cards, utilities etc, leaving Nina with no need to longer stress about money.
However, she realises she's lost without her husband. He was the bread earner with his own construction company, whereas she stayed at home and looked after the house and the boys. Since getting married to Finn and moving to Bath, Nina became socially isolated. Initially because she felt uncomfortable among the seemingly confident, wealthy, well spoken, educated and polished ladies at the school gates, refusing invitations to parties and BBQ's, until the invitations dried up. Then because she became comfortable just living within the family unit.
She had no idea of their finances or the business - that was Finns responsibility. Which sounded liberating, but she discovered was actually a burden, and that the security she craved was all now just a false facade. After losing her husband and then everything else that made up her world, Nina must relearn how to take control and be responsible for her life, as well as her children's well being.
The Art of Hiding is a thought provoking story of a woman who lost her husband, but in the aftermath started to find herself again and learnt to be independent and self sufficient without hiding behind her husband. Although she loved her husband vey much, during their marriage she became wholly reliant on him to take care of everything, apart from taking care of the running of the house and sorting the boys out. Her life was based on outside perceptions; that because they seemed to live a lifestyle straight out of a glossy magazine, that everything was perfect. It wasn't, it was a false facade, and an example of how easy it is for people to hide and keep things secret from loved ones. Albeit it seemingly with good intentions.
This is a great book that forces you to think and re-evaluate your entire life and will be an insightful lesson for many women. So many meet a man, who then becomes their husband, but in the process lose themselves. The husband may not necessarily be controlling or cruel, but if anything at all happened to him, his wife may be left unable to cope in the real world without him. Many women give up or forget their own dreams and aspirations, to give themselves wholly to the family unit. I'm not suggesting this is a bad thing. For many families this works. My own mother was a house wife, but still had her own independence and life. However, for some women it makes them too reliable on their husband and makes them almost a shadow.
Hopefully this book will make some women conclude that no matter how much they love their family, they need to retain some independence and control parts of their own life. Not every woman needs to be an ultra alpha female, but as a minimum they should retain some strength of independence and be knowledgeable about the families finances and the household affairs, and be assertive in demanding to have access to the family's accounts and to work if they so wish.
All in all this is a powerful book with a lot to say. The author can certainly take readers through a gauntlet of emotions; sadness, pity, laughter, joy, pain, despair but also happiness and hope. The emotions and sensitive subject of grief was handled well and true to life.
The characters are portrayed realistically. Nina's sister Tiggy may appear hard at times, but is a product of the environment she lives in. Whereas Nina was the same as Tiggy, before she met Finn, and then became cocooned from the hardness of life. The change we see take place in Nina as she reasserts herself and starts growing in confidence, is like watching a flower blossom. It's almost like she never believed she was good enough to have the lifestyle she enjoyed in Bath, and so stayed away from people. Whereas back in Southampton she begins to shine again.
I enjoyed the message that money and material goods can't buy happiness. Agreed. Although in many cases, they can certainly make life easier! Some beautiful and true friendships are made, and these are shown to be based on people and not things, material possessions or what people are deemed to be "worth". It does appear to be a book that it is all about what happens below the surface and not what is on show. Many of the wealthy characters are shown to be shallow and uncaring, only interested in how much money people are worth, where they live, what car they drive etc. Whereas the most caring people are the ones who have the least and who try to help as much as they can. Which is slightly - there are many genuine and decent wealthy people - over generalizing, but shows what's really important in life.
This book will make you think and analyze your life. Would the people in it still be there for you if you were left with nothing? Are you there for other people? If your other half wasn't there one day, could you manage to cope on your own and find the strength to carry on? What is most important to you?
You will likely spill a tear or two in parts, but this book is still incredibly uplifting and shows just how the human spirit can overcome adversity and find the courage and strength necessary to carry on.
Thanks to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing, and Amanda Prowse for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.
This is a well written book with a couple of very important life lessons. It’s the story of a mother that married a wealthy businessman and left her life of poverty behind her for a fancy suburban fairytale. The fairytale comes to screeching halt when tragedy strikes this family of four.
Nina is a solid heroine and I did connect with her perhaps a bit too much. As this year I have found myself and my two children in a similar situation and though the story is a very positive one perhaps it hit a bit too close to home for me. I found it a bit too realistic without holding any extraordinary possibilities.
It also saddened me that there wasn’t a love interest to be found among the pages for Nina. I’m not usually a fan of stories that doesn’t have a relationship and/or promise of one yet there must have been a reason that this book was sent to my email. You see when I clicked on the link to read the description, the book went directly to my shelf to read. I’m glad that I read the story and will draw from the lessons learned as Nina made a new life for her boys while drawing on her own strength to accomplish happiness for her family.
**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
'......the satnav told her it was 63.4 miles and would take her one hour thirty five minutes to reach their destination. Nina knew this was a lie; she knew that where they were headed was a million miles from where they had started, and that it might take years for them to arrive. '
The Art of Hiding is the first book I have read by Amanda Prowse. She is described as writing 'stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined' and as 'the queen of domestic drama'.
THE BLURB: 'What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?
Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.'
I liked the fact that this book was not predictable. At a couple of points while reading I thought 'Oh, here we go - she's going to walk into some high paid job for which she has no qualifications/she is going to have some other rich man fall in love with her and rescue her.' But as it turns out, she has to struggle along, applying for absolutely anything to earn money to put food on the table for her children, and making friends in, what is for Nina, the most unlikely places.
The Art of Hiding contains several good life lessons - friendship is far more important than possessions; and we should all be equipping our children with essential life skills - lessons we should all take to heart. And let us not forget to be kind to people less fortunate than ourselves; how hard is it really to offer a helping hand?
While The Art of Hiding didn't blow me away, it was an enjoyable read and if, in the future, I come across another book by Amanda Prowse I will probably pick it up.
Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings.
Nina McCarrick's life is perfect. Then her husband is killed in a car accident and everything Nina relied on unravels. She's alone, bereft and facing a mountain of debt. With Nina's life of luxury gone, she wonders if she ever knew the man she married. Nina has to return to the rundown council estate and the sister she thought she had left far behind.
This is a beautifully written book with characters that are realistic, and it deals with true life experiences. Nina is such a strong character and I found myself really feeling for her and her two sons struggling to make a new life together. It's fast paced, easy to read book. It's filled with a range of mixed emotions, from anger, heartbreak, love, faith and loss. Have the tissues handy.
I would like to thank NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and the author Amanda Prowse for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first book by Amanda Prowse and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it very much as it is vastly different from what I would usually choose to read. It was a relatively quick read and I surprised myself with how it tugged on my heartstrings. You know a book is well written when it can evoke such strong emotions. I was right that it was not my usual pick of novel but that isn't to say I didn't enjoy it - I found it a welcome break from my usual genres. Sometimes you need to have a break from certain genres in order to enjoy them all over again in a renewed fashion when you return to them.
What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie? Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
This is a very emotionally challenging book - I usually stay clear of these as I prefer my books to be relaxing and take me away to a different world with stories that don't stir my emotions but I am pleased I read this one.
I would consider reading another of Prowse's books in the future but they wouldn't be top of my to-be-read pile. I certainly prefer my familiar thrillers and non-fiction reads. I think these type of books you either like or don't and i'm surprised I fall into the latter category. Some of the book was pretty foreseeable which did, admittedly, spoil it a little for me.
I was offered an advanced copy of this book by Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity - this is my honest opinion.
Right, I'm going, to be honest here and say that I really struggled with this book. I'm obviously in a minority here in regards to how The art Of Hiding was perceived by myself as I've seen many positive reviews singing its praises and this is a well-written story it just personally wasn't really my cup of tea. So I'm going to try and pinpoint what wasn't working for me as there was never one major thing that stood out specifically and also what was actually floating my boat. So first things first I've never read anything by Amanda Prowse before, so was going in blind here. Well, my initial impression was that The Art Of Hiding was really well written, the words flowed easily and the writing style was one that was easy to get lost in. But here comes my main problem, the actual story itself, I found it a bit boring and somewhat one-dimensional. I also wondered whether the author herself has ever lived on the breadline or was this her portrayal of what she thinks it would be like to be in that scenario. I thought to myself why wasn't Nina McCarrick with no income not down the job centre and putting in an application, dare I say it for housing benefit. She was meant to be on her arse after all. It also annoyed me how living on the breadline was initially portrayed all doom and gloom and shitty childhoods, I didn't find it a realistic portrayal of how the other half lives it was very stereotypical in the way it depicted the rich and the poor. I found it so hard to connect with the characters especially Nina who I found very whiny and almost childlike in some of her reactions. Thank god for Tiggy, she was a breath of fresh air and also very forgiving considering the way she has been treated by her sister over the past few years. I was so glad we had tiggy to add a bit of realism to this tale, I needed her as She was the one character I actually liked completely. So a brief description of The Art Of Hiding is Nina McCarrick has the perfect life. Until that is her husband Finn dies in a car crash leaving Nina and their Two sons in a mountain of debt and their whole lives unravelling. Nina moves her boys back to the streets of Southampton where she grew up and The Art Of Hiding is really the story of how Nina and her children cope and grow as individuals as their world implodes. As I said earlier I couldn't initially connect, but then a bit before the end I felt it I had a lump in my throat as Nina and her kids visit their former home with Tiggy, it was very poignant and sentimental and after pages of just reading, I actually started to feel the words written. Overall though this book didn't make me feel good, On finishing, I felt rather sad and deflated and I like my fiction to leave me feeling rejuvenated, an emotional wreck, happy even sad, but not deflated and down that's a no-no. I really do think I would enjoy other works of Amanda Prowse's as I really did like the writing style It was just the Art Of Hiding just didn't quite hit the mark for me. I would like to thank Netgalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an arc of The Art Of Hiding By Amanda Prowse, this is my own voluntary, honest opinion.
4.5 stars. In The Art of Hiding, Amanda Prowse tells a story of a woman who seems to have lost almost everything. Nina has come from a poor background but has been caught up in the love and promise of nice things and a worry free life from her husband Finn. When her husband dies in an accident she has two sons, a fifteen year old and ten year old, and she is about to find out all the things that Finn has been hiding from her.
Nina and her boys have lived in a large house, the boys have gone to an elite school and Nina has never worked since marrying Finn. She has been safely ensconced in her large house taking care of all the needs of her boys and husband. Now according to her sister that is not really healthy and as the days unfold, Nina's sister Tiggy just might be right. Where are those rich women when Nina's world falls down around her. Well like rats leaving a sinking ship - they are gone.
When Nina returns with her two boys to her home town, it is really, really tough. Declan the ten year old is in shock, Connor her fifteen year old is by turn sullen with flashes of caring at odd times. Nina needs a job, but... how many jobs is she qualified for? Well very few or none actually.
The neighbourhood is a far cry from what they have been used to, but step by step they all make their way. Nina has guts and aided by her sister Tiggy she slowly finds her way forward. She begins to examine her life and choices, who was she... who is she now? It is difficult, her boys are struggling as you would expect, they are all grieving. But there are unexpected offers of support and the people they meet are quite different to those they once knew.
This is a very realistic story of grief, shock and loss. Of being thrown in the deep end with the choice of sinking or swimming. It is about family and what it means to have true friends and the place of money in happiness.
I really liked the book and found myself returning to it any moment I had.
Nina McCarrick’s life literally changed overnight when her husband died in a car accident. He was a successful building contractor and sole provider for his wife and two sons. Though Nina came from extremely humble beginnings, her sons had never known anything but a highly affluent lifestyle. And, she’s not worked in almost twenty years and now faces destitution because of the financial ruin left by her dead husband.
It’s often said you don’t know what you’re made of until you’re tested and Nina certainly gets her share of exams. She only has a short amount of time to bury her head in the sand before she has to deal with her sons’ well being. I felt the stages she went through were realistic, especially as she also had to look inward to examine her own contribution to her circumstances. I loved her sister, Tiggy, who served as her reality check about herself. Nina’s metamorphosis was laudable without being trite. Her accomplishments were fitting and her children’s reactions and behaviors were true to the design of their characters.
This is a tough story that I found myself cringing from at times but always engaged. Nina’s triumph and those of her children lifted my spirit. There are no trick devices here, just an honest portrayal of a woman pulling herself up by her bootstraps when life threw her in the ditch.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review)
After releasing a debut novel in 2012 that went on to become a bestseller, author Amanda Prowse appears to have the formula for producing mainstream women’s fiction down to a fine art with her ‘emotional stories about ordinary women who are placed in extraordinary circumstances’. With a synopsis that concludes with the bold statement that the author “plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love”, The Art of Hiding is certainly given the hard sell! Disappointing my reading experience didn’t quite live up to this promise in what proved to be an anodyne and simplistic story of one woman taking control of her life (shock horror, it does happen)! Frequently heavy-handed and laboured it proved nigh on impossible for me to connect with gormless mother and protagonist, Nina McCarrick, who is shockingly naive and has little life experience despite an upbringing of supposed hardship on a rough council estate.
The novel opens with thirty-something Nina as the wife of construction magnate, Finn McCarrick, and a mother to two sons who in reality is little more than a cloistered housewife and a glorified domestic servant. Living in a sizeable farmhouse in Wiltshire with a flashy car and an abundance of possessions, Finn has taken Nina away from an impoverished council estate in Portswood, Southampton and given her a life of comfort and privilege. Having lost sight of her early ambition to work in nursing and encouraged to become a homemaker by Finn, Nina is not only unqualified for any job outside of the household chores but has no idea of budgeting or finance, including being blissfully ignorant of the families financial standing. When a car accident claims the life of Finn it leaves a bereft Nina, fifteen-year-old Connor and eleven-year-old Declan woefully unprepared for what unfolds. In the days that follow Nina is shocked by the seismic revelation that she has been living a lie with the house bring repossessed, the bailiffs arriving and Nina winding up in debt to the tune of eight-million-pounds.
In a novel of very few surprises Prowse charts Nina and her son’s journey from having to leave their private school to losing their home and everything they have come to take for granted. In a repetitive first third of the novel this downfall is dragged out until Nina finds the help and support she desperately needs in big sister, Tiggy, and the one person who she has allowed herself to become gradually estranged from after leaving her former life behind. The pace picks up with the move to a down at heel council flat in Nina’s former home of Portswood as she slowly takes control of her life, from not only getting a job but to easing the pain of her son’s grief for the father they idolised and coming to terms with her own monumental loss. In the case of teenager Connor his devastation turns to anger at Nina who being the closest person to him bears the full brunt of his frustration and moodiness. As expected, there are no revelations contained in the novel and Amanda Prowse dishes out the trite lessons of people being far more important than possessions, not taking things for granted and assuming that a person’s financial situation has a direct bearing on the value of their friendships, which will come as no surprise to readers!
Most disappointing of all is the blatant lack of research undertaken by the author who obviously has no realistic idea of the advice and necessary steps which a person in Nina’s situation would be advised to take. From speaking to the local council about emergency accommodation to attempting to claim benefits for herself or her children, Nina takes none of these basic steps. Anyone who has grown up in supposed poverty would presumably be a little more street-smart than Nina for whom the definition of airhead seems entirely appropriate. Thankfully her two sons are a little more nuanced but with this story seen from the point of view of Nina there is little respite from a docile wet blanket. Heartfelt and authentic dialogue might have aided matters but by closing pages Amanda Prowse even has teenager Connor spouting pop psychology.
It disappointed me that Prowse did not spend longer analysing the obvious coercive control that Finn had over Nina and rather glosses over the fact that he has obviously isolated her, destroyed much of her self-confidence and reduced her to a person whose daily activities consist of a cycle of arranging flowers, cooking, washing and acting as chauffeur to her children. I suspect placing the marriage under the microscope would have got in the way of the lessons that were the authors transparent objectives in an unoriginal tale. Older sister, Tiggy, comes the closest to voicing her concerns when she mentions Finn building a “million-pound gilded cage” for Nina, whereas she herself simply seems to want to believe that her husband kept her in the dark to prevent her worrying.
In conclusion, The Art of Hiding is an undemanding read with a tendency to over elaborate and never reaches the heights of stirring. Many of the key moments are overdone and wrung dry for maximum sympathy and the observations on family life, marriage and friendships are in fact nothing more than common sense. I doubt much of what Prowse details will be come as revelatory and the disappointment is that in contrast to authors such as Jodi Picoult whose work has enlightened me on many occasions and provided food for thought, there is nothing “momentous” to be found between the covers. Expect occasional eye rolling with the necessary twee moments in an overly earnest narrative. If Amanda Prowse is the best that UK female fiction has to offer then I am more than happy to remain in ignorance!
Imagine having very little while growing up but finding your way into a nice life with nice things. A nice house in which you cook meals for your husband and your toughest choice of the day is your choice of tea, a nice private school to take your beautiful kids to in an equally nice car. Imagine suburbia heaven was your dream and you got it, until it turned into a nightmare.
When a tragic accident kills Nina’s husband Nina is not only left to support her two sons and pick up the pieces of her broker heart, but also to patch back together a semblance of a life after she learns her husband left his family in financial ruin and forcing her to go back to a life and people she had long ago left behind.
I'll be really honest. This is not what I was expecting nor is it in my regular kind of romance. I'm not even sure how it came up as a recommendation. That said, I liked the cover and summary, I also like the feeling of jumping into a book with some unknown aspect and then being pleasantly surprised. The Art of Hiding certainly achieved that as it is a beautiful tale of loss and self-discovery. It is heartbreaking, yet uplifting and thought provoking.
Nina has to live through the stages of grief, face adversity and make tough choices. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, a journey that requires strength and courage not just on Nina’s part but her sons as well. The story is well written and powerful in the fact that it rings very real and true and I found it to be very engaging because of it.
I seldom include personal tidbits in my reviews, but this one merits it. I’m a minimalist to the core. “Things” don’t appeal to me. I would much rather spend my valuable time celebrating a friend’s birthday by inviting them to dinner than giving them something they’ll likely never use. But this is not the norm and I’ve found the most people focus on “things”. This book addresses the importance of friends and family above material belongings.
The Art of Hiding is a standalone woman’s literature by Amanda Prowse. It is a full length novel.
* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of Lake Union via NetGalley. The excerpts taken are from that copy. *
What do you do when you find out the life you thought you had was a lie?
Great premise for a book, right? Nina McCarrick lives a life of privilege. She has a beautiful home, two sons in a private school and a successful husbands. Or so she thinks....until the unimaginable happens.
Nina's husband dies in a car accident - no spoilers here. Not only is she dealing with her grief and the grief of her son's but she quickly learns that she is about to lose everything. Her husband was in charge of their finances and he kept A LOT from her. She never knew just how bad things were with his business. Not until she receives a call from her son's school that tuition is late and is due NOW. The dominoes quickly fall as she learns just how much in debt the family is. Her home and all of her possessions are taken from her and she is left to return to the one place she never hoped to see again.
Her husband never wanted her to have a career but Nina has to work and she sets about making a life for her and her children. Her sister Twiggy lends a hand and thus begins the families journey of starting over, second chances, resiliency, and hope. There are bumps along the way but Nina and her sons all grow stronger and find the courage to move on. The saying "Money can't buy happiness" comes into mind while reading this book.
This book also should serve as a reminder to always know your finances!!!! Always believe in yourself and your abilities. This book has several themes: loss, secrets, second chances, family and hope. I like how the family rallied and how Nina let Twiggy back into her life and allowed her to help her when she and her son's needed it the most.
I will admit that I initially had a hard time getting into this book and it took me some time to finish reading. That is not to say that this is a bad book, it just failed to grab me right away but I did end up enjoying it. I found it convenient that when the family was about to lose everything that the husband had a car accident. Was this on purpose...or just a way to move the plot? Nevertheless, this is a light read even though there is a death and deceit in this book.
I received a copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
An interesting exploration into survival, though a tad heavy-handed at times.
I'll be honest, as a raging feminist (tee hee), I struggle a little with books of this ilk, so it's worthwhile stating that I'm probably not the target market. However, there was much about this book that I actually enjoyed, with just a few things that were only slightly irksome.
The book focuses on Nina, a mother of two, whose husband dies suddenly and shockingly, leaving her in financial crisis. What happens next is an exploration of survival, of coping in highly adverse situations, and carrying on for the sake of children.
As a mother myself, I found that aspect highly relatable, and liked the return to her 'roots' in Southampton. Although at times it felt a little bit of an over-idyllic depiction (I'm quite familiar with Southampton, and some of it didn't quite ring true!), it was nice to see the message coming through loud and clear that money doesn't buy happiness...hear hear! It's a good message to spread, and in these capitalist, materialistic times, one that is worth remembering.
My main issue was with the depiction of the late husband...I felt that a lot more needed to be said about his misdeeds. Yes, I get it, he did what he did for his family, but ultimately, he left them all up a certain smelly creek without a paddle, and throughout I felt like screaming at Nina 'Come on girl, wise up and realise he was a controlling git!'. It marred my opinion of her somewhat, as otherwise, I liked her as a mother.
I wanted to see her thrive as a person in her own right too, not just as a mum. Admittedly, when you're a mother, they're your life and soul. But I still baulk at this suggestion that as soon as you're a mum, you lose your identity - it's important for kids to see that you are a strong female in your own right. But I digress, these elements, whilst jarring, didn't stop my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
Overall, an emotionally charged read... though more feisty females please!
A great book by Amanda prowse, with her beautiful passionate words. This book tells the story of Nina, who finds out, that things were not as good as she had thought, when her husband dies and leaves her a mountain of debt. Nina has two kids to look after and with no job and no career, she begins her journey of self discovery, getting herself back to life. This story is all about hope, survival and finding the inner strength and confidence to deal with life and its setbacks. Nina does it with great dignity and honesty. Nina has a sister, Tiggy, with whom she had disconnected during her married life. She reconnects with her in a most wonderful way. The love between sisters is so palpable, their childhood and their shared memories all come alive in Amanda's prose. Money is needed in day to day life but does not guarantee happiness, so beautifully shown in this book. The Art of Hiding is a story of living after a great tragedy and finding happiness and contentment in the Now, the present and everyday... This is the underlying main message of this book. Ms Amanda Prowse, you have done it again and there are so many thought provoking lines in this book. I am quoting the most beautiful lines of them... "This is a scary world, and if ever the real world feels too big or scary, remember that it is nothing more than a little ball travelling through space, and the more courage you have, the braver you are, when facing it, the easier it is to conquer. " Thank you for giving me these words to remember whenever I am scared or life gets to be too much. Thank you Amanda for writing this book.... I received my ARC from netgalley and this is my honest, unbiased review.
Nina McCarrick came from very humble beginnings, but finds herself married to successful husband Finn, living with their two young sons Declan and Connor in a pricey home in Bath, England. Nina is a housewife, totally devoted to her husband, kids and home....and that's the way Finn wants it. We don't fully get to know Finn as his life is extinguished as the book begins. However, as the story unfolds we find that Finn kept financial business problems from his wife, and Nina and her children's lives are sent into a violent tailspin upon his death. This scenario forms the basis for this very poignant tome.
Nina and her children are forced out of their life of security, privilege and comfort to begin again from the ground up. There's something so satisfying about a story where someone returns to their roots, a life they thought they had left behind and improved upon, only to realize that tangible goods aren't what's really important in life. This is a story about triumphing over adversity, hitting rock bottom and finding the inner strength to make the best of a situation. In the end one finds values such as being a true friend, living humbly, the importance of hard work, and always being there for your family. There are also lessons to be learned about class warfare and wastefulness.
Quite frankly, I was skeptical about whether I would enjoy this book, but came away from it with a very full heart and a lump in my throat. This was a worthwhile read, indeed.
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing an e-copy in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Nina has a perfect life, huge house and loving family, yet why does she feel like such a fraud and misfit? Having come from very poor origins she cannot believe she was swept off her feet by the confident and upcoming Finn. Now with two teenage sons at an exclusive private school Nina feels her place is being a full time housewife and avoids social contact. In the blink of an eye her world comes crashing down. Who is she really, and who is the man that she married? Nina is forced onto a personal voyage where she has to learn the hard way who she can turn to and who she can trust. More importantly she has to find out what kind of stuff she is really made out of. A great story about family, love and loss.
Nina lived the perfect life as a stay at home mom to her two boys. With a very successful husband in tow, she wanted for nothing and life was good. Until she got the phone call...
This one had me feeling uneasy as it niggled at one of my deepest fears of what I would do if I lost my husband, both emotionally and, since I too am a stay at home mom, financially as well. Needless to say I could easily put myself in Nina's shoes.
The Art of Hiding is a tale of a family's emotional and financial ruin and the process of coming up from the ashes, much stronger.
It highlights some good life lessons like teaching children to be good people and not just teaching them to be financially successful, and showing kindness and friendship to those who may be struggling.
I enjoyed witnessing the growth of Nina and her boys as they overcome their grief, fears and obstacles and not give in to the despair of their dire situation. They became stronger, better people because of the hardships they had suffered.
*** May contain spoilers from here on out***
The one thing that did rub me up the wrong way was that because Nina was a homemaker, because she had no paying job, and didn't pursue a career, she was made out to be as a mere helper in her home. Nina, her sister and her son Connor only saw Nina's value once she had found employment, making a financial contribution of her own. What message is this saying to the rest of us homemakers who have no paying jobs, but whose contribution to the home is just as valuable! Granted, it seemed to be more Finn's decision that Nina stay home, but she agreed and was happy and content to do so at the time.
Although this wasn't a wow read for me, it did have a lovely story and I am glad I got to be introduced to Amanda Prowse's work through this novel.
Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing, Netgalley and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Oh WOW I can see why author Amanda Prowse has a legion of fans, what a gifted story teller she is. I was expecting a compelling read, but no way was I expecting such an emotive and powerful one, the author certainly knows how to write a story that will pull on the most hardened heartstrings. It’s going to sound cliched but I really didn’t want to put this book down as I was so caught up In Nina’s story.
Nina appears to have it all, the dream home, holidays in exotic places, her children go to private school and the most difficult decision she has to make is what to have for tea. Life often deals a cruel hand and when her husband Finn is killed in a car crash, Nina is left with a mountain of debt and life changes for her in the most dramatic way. The Art Of Hiding follows Nina on her journey of self discovery and what a powerful and very “human” story it is.
Beautifully written with characters that are so incredibly real, dealing with “real” life situations The Art Of Hiding made for a compelling read. I must applaud Amanda Prowse on her ability to create such wonderful and believable characters, Nina for instance is a character with immense depth and strength and I found myself drawn to her, as she struggles to make a new life for herself and her two son’s I felt so many emotions that truly added to my enjoyment of this novel.
Amanda Prowse tells a remarkable tale but also a thought provoking one with a valuable lesson, society today is very much focussed on possessions, who has the biggest television? the newest phone? The Art Of Hiding very much shows there are far more important things to value in life, family, friends, a roof over our heads, everyone would be a lot happier being content with what they’ve got instead of striving to have the very best.
The Art Of Hiding is a story of grief, relationships and redemption and so much more. I would certainly recommend this book, and I’m thrilled to have found a new author’s books to read, and even better I have a big back catalogue of books to read by Amanda Prowse, some of which I ordered as soon as I finished The Art Of Hiding.
Pretty good overall. Tough to get through the beginning and middle. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This book gave me a lot of mixed feelings. The beginning was hard to get through. The sadness. The day to day tribulations. The emotional demise of the family. I honestly didn't think it would ever pick up.
Towards the middle of the story you do see a little glimpse of brightness. But getting there I honestly have to say was tough. Several times I wanted to stop reading. You get the entire breakdown of the family and the lack of self-confidence, which leads to the title of this book.
But getting through all the day to day mundane activity does have a bright side. But this brightness only is towards the last third of the book.
While the writing is strong and full of eloquent detail, I can't even say we got a traditional happily ever after. It was more like a "everything's all right in the world" ending. I guess I'm OK with that since it is what it is. However I like happy books and this was less than that for me.
Amanda Prowse can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes! I have been a fan of her popular women’s fiction for many years and she’s never let me down yet. I always seem to find something within her strongly affecting contemporary narratives to relate back to my own life and that’s what makes her novels stand out for me. It’s like I have to live out my own fears for myself and also my family through reading these powerful domestic dramas! The Art of Hiding was again one of her most relatable books for me and I felt an incredible amount of empathy for Nina as I watched her discover that the life she was leading was a one based on a shocking “lie”.
But I have to start by saying that I didn’t blame Finn for what he did to his family here, others may disagree but I felt some sympathy for him too. Obviously he left his family to pay the ultimate price for his stupidity but I think he just did what many men do, sweeping things under the carpet so that they aren’t exactly lying to their other halves…..in their eyes they are protecting them! Although we never actually meet Finn here, I think he is brought to life perfectly through Nina and her memories of her husband and the mess he left behind. But there needs to be a lesson in this for every woman out there…ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWARE OF YOUR FAMILIES FINANCES!!! It’s so easy to leave everything to one person, often the main breadwinner, but the situation here CAN AND DOES happen to women everywhere, especially those approaching retirement age. Let this book be a wake up call for you-it certainly has been for me!!
I loved Nina and her boys here. In a week where there has been so much in the news about the anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales, I actually saw a lot of her in Nina but obviously on a much smaller scale!! I became thoroughly invested in her struggle to make that new life for her boys, doing what she had to do to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I loved watching her return to the woman she was before her marriage and reconnect with her past self. Amanda always writes female characters who remind me of my mother’s favourite quote by Eleanor Roosevelt “A woman is like a teabag. You can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”. And it’s always a fascinating journey following that emotional brewing to its final destination.
Once again I felt like I was leaving friends behind when I finished The Art of Hiding. Amanda Prowse has such an engaging writing style that you just can’t help but fall in love with her books and this one seemed to resonate quite deeply with me becoming one of my personal favourites. Highly recommended for fans old and new.
We all think we know people well, especially those we live with. However, for Nina Mc Carrick the opposite is true. Her husband is killed in a car accident and her life of luxury unravels ever so quickly because she is unaware of the mountain of debt her husband has run up, eight million pounds of it to be exact. Use to a life of luxury, she and her sons, already suffering from the death of a spouse and father, lose everything, They move back to a neighborhood from which Nina tried to escape and through perseverance are able to pull together the threads of their life.
While I thought the book had a strong beginning, for me it seemed to fade as event after event fell into a pat order. For me there was many things that just didn't ring true. I found it hard to believe that the family could adapt as well as they did to the happenings of their lives. The characters of the children were presented as perfect presentations of perfect children. Even though the eldest boy, a teenager, was resentful for a bit he feel into line and espoused an attitude of such overall acceptance n a relatively short span of time. The youngest son was perfection, too much so in my mind. I know what it is like to raise children and in the telling of this story, Nina had not a bit of trouble with her boys especially her youngest one. Normal children would have reacted differently and for a much longer space of time. It just didn't make much sense to me that these children raised in luxury would have embraced being cast into the role of poor kids.
So for me this which started out to be a most promising read ended up being only a mediocre one.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced copy of this book for an unbiased review.
The Art of Hiding is a touching story about a woman who discovers she was living a lie when her husband dies in a car accident. Nina’s life is turned upside down when she discovers how much debt her husband was in. Can you imagine grieving and struggling with the loss of your husband, while at the same time discovering he was in a huge amount of debt and never told you about it? Not only that, but have nearly every single thing taken away from you because of that secret debt. How does anyone cope with that shock, especially while their heart is breaking over the loss of their husband?
At times this was a very emotional story, and at other times it was inspiring. I really connected with Nina and experienced her difficulties at picking up the pieces and starting her life from scratch, struggling to find a home for her and her sons, discovering who her real friends were, as well as the challenges of finding a job with little to no experience.
Overall, this was an enjoyable story I found really hard to stop listening to. I did have tears in my eyes on a couple of occasions, but I did also find myself smiling too. I’m definitely looking forward to reading or listening to more by this author. I loved that Amanda Prowse actually narrated her own book too.
I borrowed this in audiobook format through Kindle Unlimited.
I was approved for a copy for review via NetGalley!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars (after lots of heart to heart thinking and needing time to process everything that was included within the novel).
T/W- Grief, Scene with Bailiffs
For the total emotional punch to your day, read multiple works by Amanda back to back. I read this one straight after finishing another one of her novels The Idea of You which totally broke my heart. The Art Of Hiding follows a married mum of two boys Nina who finds out the shocking news that her husband has been killed in a car crash. Life after his death reveals some shocking secrets about their love that she never knew. Nina and her sons must leave their world in the city of Bath behind and re-locate back to a city from Nina's past called Southampton. There, the two boys must find a new school and for the first time in many years, Nina must find a new job. But how can she and her family be happy when most of their time together has been a lie?
There were some locations mentioned that I was very familiar with which made me smile. Amanda's writing style is just so easy to get into reading. By around 5% in, I was settled down and determined to find out the hidden truths surrounding the shocking cover-ups. It was emotional but definitely not melodramatic. The perspective of a single Mum was interesting to read about and I thought that Nina's determination to bring joy back into her sons warmed my heart. The ending was a solid conclusion. Some of the outer cast of characters I either couldn't relate to or I simply disliked due to their behaviour.
This book really shines a spotlight on the fact that families and couples might look ideal on the outside but behind closed doors things are so different. Even though Finn is super busy with his business so his family can have everything they want including a mansion, private school and Nora, his wife, can stay home and take care of everything on the home front including their two boys. Nora has been left in the dark about their finances because Finn doesn't want her to worry about it. But he then suddenly dies in a car accident, which sound fishy and Nora is left with nothing. She and the boys have to leave their posh life and start over. This is a story about struggle, finding yourself, and finding your strength and realizing who you are and that you can survive. There are a lot of sad parts to the book. I'm really glad Amanda didn't turn the older boy into a rebel who started drinking and doing drugs. It seems like that is a default with some of these types of stories. This book made me ugly cry at one point. Very well written and so worth my time. It makes you stop and think about your own life and what would happen if your spouse suddenly is gone. Are you prepared to carry on?
With thanks to Net Galley for this uncorrected proof copy.
I undertook the reading of this knowing that it was classified as Women's Literary Fiction, a tag that will probably put off many men from doing the same. A pity. The Art of Hiding is a well written domestic drama, a story of riches to rags. Nina McCarrick has it all, or so she believes. A successful husband running a construction business, a beautiful home, two sons - Connor and Declan - attending a superior school. It appears that money is no object until her husband Finn is killed in a car accident and her world comes crashing down. Finn has left behind a bankrupt company, an enormous debt, school fees unpaid. As the bailiffs descend Nina has to face the horror of losing everything.
Nina and her sons are forced to return to her roots in Southampton to face an impoverished future. The despair of the first half of this book is depressing but change comes as they all have to face the reality of poverty. Money does not buy happiness and Nina and her boys are courageous in the face of adversity. Nina's sister Tiggy plays a key role in helping Nina, Connor and Declan find their true selves.
A big thank you to Amanda Prowse, Lake Union, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. This book is a little out of my comfort zone, and that's okay-because I LOVED this story! There were so, so many life changes of the heroine that were easily parallel with my life: the sudden loss of a supportive loved one; being strapped for cash; being forced to uproot your child; looking for a job and feeling too old or unqualified I ran the gambit with her. And the ending! Oh what a tear jerker and I don't often let myself cry with books. Prowse, you not only found my heartstrings, you played them like a Stradivarius. Kudos on another well written novel.