The good: Heartfelt, tender and funny.
The not-so-good: Would love to see Jacinta get a book of her own!
Why I chose it: Never miss one of Fiona McArthur’s books. Thanks to Penguin for the copy (and the quote).
Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Setting: Northern New South Wales, Australia
Rating: 10 out of 10
I’m pretty sure I say this for every Fiona McArthur books I read and review, but I love her books. I know I can rely on a great story with conflict and drama, yet expect a happy ending. Of course, Mothers’ Day has this in spades. It’s a heart-warming tale that introduces the reader to a number of strong characters and their stories in a lovely part of rural Australia.
All the female characters hold their own in this story, but the main character is Noni. She’s a midwife at the local hospital in Burra, which is under threat because the local obstetrician is retiring. Noni truly loves her job and this will be devastating for her. She’s worked hard as a single mum to bring up her son Harley and give him a good childhood while living with her Aunt Win. Win is a rock in Noni and Harley’s life, and runs a small guesthouse in Burra. This is how Iain and Jacinta McCloud come into their lives. Jacinta is the daughter Iain never knew he had. Jacinta’s pregnant and until Iain found her in Sydney, was doing things tough. So in the guesthouse is a new father-daughter relationship where both teams are exceptionally headstrong. Sparks are sure to fly – and they do – but Noni and Iain are the ones providing the brightest ones! The air crackles between them as they spar on topics such as the birthing process, but both know that there could be more in their relationship. Will they take a chance when this is likely to be a short relationship?
Threaded through the narrative are the stories of a number of mothers and mums-to-be. Jacinta’s worries are closely linked to that of her own mother. She also becomes friends with some other teenage mums in town. There is Noni’s own story of course, in contrast to Iain’s story as an insta-dad to a 17 year old girl. There are a lot of ways that motherhood is celebrated in this novel, both traditional and non-traditional. It’s a beautiful story, particularly Jacinta’s own birthing process. (There’s also a bit of humour too as Iain and Noni spark off against each other – in a bathroom). The dialogue is sensitive when it needs to be, or witty and warm. Despite the story being set in a country town, there is plenty of drama as the story unfolds from the eyes of Noni, Jacinta and Win. I liked the contrast between these women of different ages in terms of wisdom and outlook on life. You would think Win would be more world-weary, being older, but she’s not. She has a calm outlook on life but that doesn’t mean to say that she has it all sorted. I loved Jacinta’s attitude that she could conquer the world, and really felt for her when she was gripped by fear. Noni was somewhere in the middle of the two – she has guts, but she’s more cautious than Jacinta and doesn’t quite have the confidence of Win. Watching Noni grow more confident was wonderful to watch.
Mothers’ Day is simply put, a beautiful story. It celebrates women of all ages, whether they are biological mothers or not, wrapped up in a story that is truly memorable.