Joanna Lambert's Reviews > The Cuckoo Sister

The Cuckoo Sister by Alison Stockham
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Maggie and Stephen married with baby Emily on the way. Her career plans put on hold, Maggie was shocked to discover soon after Emily’s birth that she was expecting a second baby. Now with a two and one year old, she has become overwhelmed by a constant round of housework and child care. There is no time for anything she wants to do, not even befriending other young mothers. Maggie soon finds herself in a downward mental spiral which comes to a head when an accident at home affecting the children sees them both in A & E. Maggie’s younger sister and husband Stephen are there, but in the chaos that ensues, Maggie realises she can’t take any more and walks out on them all.
Stephen and sister Rose are left to cope with life after Maggie. In contrast to her sister, Rose is a single with her own flat and a good job. She also loves kids and is a good organiser. At times she has envied her sister and longed for family life. Now, despite, the trauma surrounding Maggie’s departure, she has an opportunity to have just that. Everything begins slowly. Stephen offers to financially support her if she gives up her job to become a full time carer to Emily and Elliot. This she does and begins to enjoy this new lifestyle. Her skills soon have the family home well organised. The children gradually beginning to stop asking where their mother is.
The main question here is, where does Rose draw the line? As time goes on and Maggie is not found, Stephen and Rose settle into what Rose perceives as her perfect life. The life she feels she deserves. But when Maggie is found, everything is thrown into chaos.
I didn’t really like any of the main protagonists in this story. Maggie’s best friend Elaine, who never gave up looking for her, was the nearest; the only one who seemed to care and was determined to find her. Stephen couldn’t see how his wife struggled. He appeared to think in terms of himself as the breadwinner and that his wife’s job to keep house and look after the children should be accomplished without any trouble. He didn’t see, or rather chose not to, the mental health issues that began to crop up. All he seemed to do was criticise. It was clear the hasty marriage and the living pattern they fell into after the children were born showed up distinct differences in what each of them really wanted. Time away allowed Maggie to heal, and also to become someone other than a 24/7 mother.
Stephen was quite blinkered. He saw his role as the provider, not really interested in what had been going on at home during the day, or whether Maggie was coping. Rose, the supportive sister didn’t exactly jump straight into her sister’s shoes. However, right from the moment she disappeared, the idea of replacing Maggie had planted itself firmly in her brain until little by little she convinced herself the role was hers by default. What happened after Maggie’s return left me feeling worried about the long term effect on the children. Stephen and Rose’s solution to the problem, for me, didn’t work and was quite cruel to Maggie. And the final twist at the end, I didn’t see coming. I wasn’t sure how this story would end, but the way it did left me wondering whether I could have been as forgiving as Maggie. A good strong debut from Alison and look forward to reading her next book.
I would like to thank Alison Stockham, Boldwood Books and Netgalley for an ARC of The Cuckoo Sister in exchange for an honest review.

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Reading Progress

January 21, 2023 – Started Reading
January 23, 2023 – Finished Reading
January 27, 2023 – Shelved

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