Just how far would you go to twist a friend's problem to your solution?
The Longing is commercial fiction, a psychological thriller that explores themes of families, bad mothers, close friendships, male depression, and the lies we weave to keep the truth at bay.
Jen Walker narrates her story that started one crisp January night with her stillborn baby and ends a year later with a newborn. What happens in the intervening time will change Jen's life forever. Jen appears just like you and me. Successful in her work for the health service, lives in London and married to her soul mate, Tony. Jen struggles with difficult family members, in-laws, and nurturing her friendships as best she can. The one thing she longs for is a baby so she can show her mother how to raise a child. A longing so raw it's visceral. Jen would do anything for a baby to call her own.
Jen would be the first to admit her life is a complicated one: her past and present entwine in ways that tightens its grip on her emotional wellbeing. Her estranged mother, Sadie, who she has a fragile love - hate relationship with, gives her nothing but trouble. When an altercation with her family around the welfare of Jen's five year old niece involves the Police and Social Services, there are repercussions that ripple out into her home and work life. The incident comes to the attention of her boss via the Internet, eventually culminating in Jen handing in her Notice. Sadie feels that Jen owes her, and uses emotional blackmail to try and get what she wants from her. Through all this Jen has become alienated from Tony, both struggling to deal with their loss of Sarah. When Tony tells Jen he no longer wants to start a family, she feels betrayed.
Jen's friends come to her rescue. Rosie couldn't be more different and blows fresh air into Jen's stressful life. Rosie is a work colleague and moonlights in a Burlesque club. She's a bit vague on what it is she does exactly at the Club, but includes a bucket list of sleeping with someone famous. Ella is an old friend who crosses Jen's path when she's most vulnerable, but is delighted to rekindle their friendship. Coincidently, Rosie and Ella are also old friends, and it's through this friendship triangle that secrets and lies take hold. So when Ella asks for Jen's help with an unplanned pregnancy, unaware of Sarah, the timing couldn't be better. For her own reasons Ella needs to keep her pregnancy away from the prying eyes of the authorities. Jen thinks serendipity. When Tony dies suddenly, exactly six months to the day that they lost Sarah, Jen is tipped into an emotional abyss. Hiding her demons only too well, Jen sees the opportunity in taking advantage of Ella's plight and keeping the pregnancy secret. The pair concocts a plan for Jen to use her midwifery skills, and to deliver the baby secretly at home. Ella has no idea of the danger she is in.
After concealing her pregnancy under everyone's nose, Ella disappears as she goes into labour. Distraught, Jen later receives a phone call from Ella. Will Jen's scheme continue to go as planned?
The books that inspired The Longing are:
The Light Between the Oceans by ML Stedman
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews.
They are interesting reads that share a sense of longing, wanting what you can't have and people not being as they seem. The books written with a light touch, hiding a much darker side, and yet tell compelling stories of loss and grief.