Most of you are well aware that my reading and reviewing schedule was sabotaged by my illness which severely affected my concentration levels. I have occasional days when I can read and if I’m lucky can actually remember what I’ve read. On others the desire is there, but it just never happens. Things are improving slowly and I’m desperately trying to play catch up with books I agreed to review.
One author that has fallen between the cracks is Christine Webber. I really enjoyed Christine’s previous book Who’d Have Thought It? and was delighted to receive her next book It’s Who We Are. Sadly that sat on my shelf as it arrived during treatment when nothing was being read. The irony of having an imposed period of illness and hundreds of books to read, that I can’t read has not gone unnoticed.
Despite this, I was delighted when Christine kindly sent me her latest publication In Honour Bound which was published on 6th November. So until the reading mojo is back up and running, meaning and a review is possible, I’d like to give it a shout out.
This is Christine speaking about In Honour Bound:-
You might say that this book is both my first novel and my fourth! Let me explain.
In early 2018, having brought out Who’d Have Thought It? and It’s Who We Are – I was planning another novel, but my husband was very ill, and I felt my head wasn’t in the right place to write something entirely new. However, one day we found ourselves discussing In Honour Bound, which was published by Century Hutchinson in 1987, and I came to the decision that, as it had gone out of print two decades previously, I could revisit and rewrite it. So, that’s what I did.
I’ve kept the narrative in the mid-eighties – with big hair, shoulder pads and far too much sex, smoking and drinking – but simply tried to improve the original text. Working on this book has reminded me what a very different world it was back then. In the autumn of 1984, when the story begins, most of us had never heard of AIDs, though by 1986 there was a nationwide campaign to alert us to its dangers. And none of us had email or mobile phones – or even those ‘new-fangled’ contraptions called answerphones – so our methods of communication with friends and lovers were very different from that of today.
My work as a relationship psychotherapist has also influenced this rewrite. Romantic passion can generate truly extreme behaviour, and in my Harley Street practice, I’ve seen countless individuals become almost insane with torment. Those experiences have added colour to the text.
I should point out that though I was a TV presenter in the mid-eighties, this is not my story. I never had a Middle Eastern boyfriend for a start. But all the crazy features that I’ve described in the novel – the lion tamer, the knife-thrower and so on – did happen, and I conducted those interviews.
So what is the book about?
Set in London in the mid-1980s – a decade of opportunity where everything seemed possible – Helen Bartlett, one of the nations’s favourite news presenters and Sam Aziz, a glamorous middle-eastern cardiac surgeon, meet on a live TV programme. They dislike each other on sight, and the interview is a disaster. That might have been the end of their story but, later that evening, they find themselves at the same dinner party.
In the following weeks, hostility morphs into passion, and soon they are constant companions and desperately in love.
Both are at the stage in life when people are looking for the right partner with whom to settle down and produce a family. They seem made for each other, they delight in the joy that they have found, and plan to marry. But then, the differences in their cultural backgrounds begin to manifest themselves. And a debt of honour that Sam cannot ignore returns to haunt him.
Struggling with their torment, while she is so much in the public eye and he is performing life-saving surgery on a daily basis, places them under intolerable strain.
Do they have to relinquish the most magical relationship either of them has ever known? Can they find a way out of their dilemmas? Or do they have to accept that no matter how modern we are, we cannot fly in the face of traditions that served, and shaped us, for centuries?
About Christine Webber
Christine originally trained as an opera singer but had to re-think her career plans when her voice professor told her: ‘Your voice is OK, but your legs are very much better!’ Musical theatre beckoned. There was some success. But not much.
In 1979, she became a news presenter for Anglia TV. At last she had found something she enjoyed that other people thought she was good at. It was such a happy relief that she stayed for 12 years.
After leaving Anglia Television, she decided to train as a psychotherapist, which led to her having a Harley Street practice for over twenty years. She also became an agony aunt for various publications including TV Times, Best, Dare and BBC Parenting. And she wrote a relationship advice column for The Scotsman and one for Woman, called Sexplanations. She also regularly broadcast advice on Trisha, The Good Sex Guide …Late and from the BBC’s Breakfast sofa.
Much of her work has been in collaboration with her late husband, media doctor, David Delvin. Together, and for sixteen years, they wrote the sex/relationships content on www.netdoctor.co.uk, penned a joint column for The Spectator and co-authored The Big O.
Now, her focus is on writing fiction full time and she is planning another novel on the unexpected turbulence and contrasting humour of mid-life.
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If you want to discover even more about Christine then check out her appearance on Five on Friday.
It must be strange to revisit a novel, but wise not to attempt to bring the storry into the present. Why did we think the future had arrived because we aquired a video machine!
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I think the way the future is panning out, we might have been wiser to stay in the 80’s – though that’s probably the glow of nostalgia talking. I remember that the Cold War, actual wars, immigration and unrest were also headline grabbers – I guess we never learn.
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