Publisher – Harper Impulse 26 July 2018
Available in ebook (26 July 2018) and paperback (4 October 2018)
It’s PUBLICATION DAY today for the ebook publication of Five Unforgivable Things and I’m delighted to welcome Vivien Brown back to the blog to celebrate. My thanks to Vivien for the guest post which I hope you enjoy and congratulations on your publication day.
Guest Post by Vivien Brown
When Karen asked me to write a post connected in some way to my novel, Five Unforgivable Things, my thoughts turned immediately to its central theme: infertility – and what the longing for a child, and its consequences, can do to a relationship. It’s a subject that has been used in fiction before, of course. Couples who can’t cope with the stress of treatment (or its failure) and split up because of it; men sick of being treated as sperm machines, called to duty whenever the thermometer says it’s ovulation time; couples blaming each other for their inability to conceive; women who can’t have a baby of their own and end up kidnapping someone else’s…
It’s a highly emotive topic and one I worried about using in a novel. For those who have been there and gone through IVF or other similar procedures, it could all be a bit too close to home, something they would not want to relive, while for those who have no experience of it, the story might have no resonance at all.
But infertility and pregnancy complications are so much more common than we often realise. We probably all know someone who has undergone the heartache of enforced childlessness, quite possibly suffering in silence while well-meaning friends and family keep asking when they are going to start a family or make innocent comments about ticking biological clocks. When I did a little research, I found the figures quite frightening. Of all the couples who try for a baby, at least 1 in every 7 are likely to encounter problems, needing time, drugs or some form of medical or surgical intervention to achieve their dream. Infertility (both male and female), repeated miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, still births… so much can go wrong along the way, and being older or having already been trying for three years or more (like my heroine Kate in the book) reduces the chances even further. And that’s not to mention the unfortunate ones who, despite every possible treatment, and having often incurred enormous expense, never do get the ‘live’ baby outcome they are hoping for.
So, how could I tackle these very distressing topics in a sensitive but true-to-life way yet still produce a good, readable novel? For a start, I made sure that my central couple, Kate and Dan, were happy and in love. I felt that gave them the best chance of seeing their troubles through together, or at least trying to. Then I took the decision to set that part of their story in the past, for them to embark on IVF in the 1980s, a time when it was still relatively new and unregulated, when decisions carried more risk and outcomes were far more unpredictable. From this point my story became far less about infertility itself and much more about the marriage – the strains it was under, the mistakes each of them made and the far-reaching consequences of their decisions and actions on themselves and their family.
So, Five Unforgivable Things is not really about the inability to conceive. That is simply what provides the impetus, the catalyst, for all that follows. And when that kind of stress hits, there will always be blame. Things she did but maybe should not have done; things he did and soon comes to regret. They happen in all relationships, but here I ask the question: How far can you let things go, and what things might happen that you know you just can’t forgive? Ever? What events, what tragedies, might break a marriage and what might make it stronger?
Many people have asked me what the five unforgivable things of the title are, guessing that one is bound to be an affair, or perhaps there will be lies, domestic violence, or someone running up secret debts. All I can say is that one person’s idea of what can and cannot be forgiven is never going to be the same as another’s. We each have a different set of rules, a different sense of what we will tolerate from the ones we love. Kate and Dan’s may not be the same as mine, or yours, but one thing is for sure… I am not going to tell you what they are. The only way to find out is to read the book!
| About the Book |
Almost thirty years ago, Kate’s dream came true. After years of struggling, she was finally pregnant following pioneering IVF. But the dream came at a cost. Neither Kate nor her husband Dan could have known the price they would have to pay to fulfil their cherished wish of having their own family. Now, years later, their daughter Natalie is getting married and is fulfilling her own dream of marrying her childhood sweetheart. Natalie knows she won’t be like most brides as she travels down the aisle in her wheelchair, but it’s the fact her father won’t be there to walk beside her that breaks her heart. Her siblings, Ollie, Beth and Jenny, gather around Natalie, but it isn’t just their father who is missing from their lives… as the secrets that have fractured the family rise to the surface, can they learn to forgive each other before it’s too late?
| Author Bio |
Vivien Brown lives in west London with her husband and two cats. She worked for many years in banking and accountancy, and then, after the birth of twin daughters, made a career switch and started working with young children, originally as a childminder but later in libraries and children’s centres, promoting the joys of reading and sharing books through storytimes and book-based activities and training sessions. She has written many short stories for the women’s magazine market and a range of professional articles and book reviews for the nursery and childcare press, in addition to a ‘how to’ book based on her love of solving cryptic crosswords. Now a full time writer, working from home, Vivien is combining novel-writing and her continuing career in magazine short stories with her latest and most rewarding role as doting grandmother.