Today I’m delighted to feature bestselling author Amanda Brookfield. Amanda has been a personal favourite of mine since her first book Alice Alone. Amanda has since written 16 further novels, including, ‘Relative Love’, ‘Good Girls’ and ‘The Other Woman’, as well as a memoir, ‘For the Love of a Dog’, a moving account of personal recovery following the end of her marriage and the death of her mother. Amanda writes about relationships – love, loss, conflict, trauma – with an eagle eye on the blessings and burdens related to family.
Amanda has two grown-up sons, a Golden Doodle called Mabel, and lives in London.
Over to Amanda:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Elvis ‘Teddy Bear’
First heard aged 12, it made me dance and sing (to the hilarity of my family), prompting the purchase of my first album, ‘Elvis’s Golden Hits’ (again, to the hilarity of my family).
Genesis ‘Supper’s Ready’
This track blasts me back to my teen years and the total infatuation that is First Love. But it also stands the test of time, for its combo of story-telling power and a heart-tugging tune.
Sting ‘Fields of Gold’
Heard live in a packed stadium in Buenos Aires when I was twenty-eight years old and nine months pregnant with my firstborn, hoping desperately not to go into labour! Poignant, simple, powerful, hauntingly beautiful; poetry and music in motion.
Adele ‘Someone Like You’
No better break-up song on the planet. Solace for when a relationship fails and great for belting out when you’re in love.
Bach ‘Mass in B Minor’
The greatest choral work ever written. Life-affirming and glorious, as well as a reminder of the sheer joy of my favourite team sport of singing
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
The written word
The Times Crossword
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to fail
You are beautiful
Making people like you is not the most important thing
Be more curious about EVERYTHING
Kindness is all that matters
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I am riddled with doubt
The creature who knows me best is my Golden Doodle, Mabel
Writing has made me an expert on back pain
I love karaoke
Doing nothing is my favourite luxury
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Write a truly brilliant book
Walk the famous 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail
Go to Bhutan
Fall in love again
Live long enough to get to know any future grandchildren
Many thanks for joining me today Amanda, it was a real treat for me. I loved your music choices and am particularly envious that you got to see Sting, never mind that it was also in Buenos Aires! Good to see that you’ve refined your chocolate of choice. I’m also partial to a Malteser, or rather several, as it’s impossible to have just one. I quite like the small boxes – that’s a decent size to be going on with. I wish our younger selves were often kinder to themselves, that would eradicate so many of our lingering insecurities. It might have made me less self conscious about performing, you have my respect and admiration for being able to stand up and perform karaoke, that would be a nightmare for me. I’m sure your readers would say you already write brilliant books, but I hope that one comes along that makes you feel the same. I really hope you get to walk the Camino, I’ve just finished ‘virtually’ cycling it and writing about the places I would have seen had it been for real. It’s re-enforced my desire to at least walk a section and return to Santiago de Compostela. If you get the chance I also hope it’s with a new found soul mate – the perfect companion.
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For the Love of a Dog
After the death of her mother and the end of a post-divorce relationship leave her heartbroken, novelist Amanda Brookfield finds her once secure world imploding. As despair closes in, she talks of getting a puppy to revive her optimistic spirit.
Amanda is advised that her lifestyle will not suit becoming a dog-owner but she can’t resist Mabel, a beautiful golden doodle puppy. Arming herself with an arsenal of equipment, Amanda learns that there are no short-cuts to training and caring for a dog. Through battling daily challenges and constantly regrouping, Amanda realises she is starting to come to terms with her bereavement and the prospect of facing the rest of her life alone.
For the Love of a Dog tells the bigger, more poignant story about the labour of emotional recovery after the trauma of loss. Mabel shines like a light throughout, the unwitting architect of rebuilding self-belief. Mabel’s own journey is equally captivating: as she blossoms into a mischievous, endearing head-turner of a companion – as affectionate as she is glorious.
The Other Woman
On a normal day, in a normal house, on a normal street, wife and mother Fran has had enough. She packs a case, leaves a note for her bullying husband Pete, and one for her beloved twenty-year-old son Harry, and heads to the airport – and freedom.
In another house, on another street, Helena is desperately baiting her husband Jack into a fight. These days it feels like the only way to get Jack to take notice of her. Passionate, volatile, increasingly fragile, Helena is fast running out of hope.
What Helena and Fran don’t know, is that soon their lives are going to collide in ways neither expect nor understand. And if Fran and Helena are going to change their own futures, then first they will have to change each other’s.
Who can you trust with your darkest secrets…
Everyone that meets Kat Keating is mesmerised. Beautiful, smart and charming, she is everything a good girl should be.
Her sister Eleanor, on the other hand, knows she can’t compete with Kat. On the awkward side of tall, clever enough to be bullied, and full of the responsibilities only an older sibling can understand, Eleanor grows up knowing she’s not a good girl.
This is the story of the Keating sisters – through a childhood fraught with dark secrets, adolescent rivalries, and on into adulthood with all its complexities and misunderstandings. Until a terrible truth from the past brings the sisters crashing together, and finally Eleanor begins to uncover just how good Kat really was.
The Love Child
When Janine and Dougie fell in love they thought it would be for ever. Fifteen years later their relationship is well and truly over, their daughter Stevie their one remaining connection.
Stevie is on the cusp of adulthood. At sixteen, she’s not quite a child, but not quite grown up: a dangerous age. But it’s only during a birthday celebration in Spain, when she gets too close to one of Dougie’s best friends, that her parents realize just how dangerous.
With friendships shattered and trusts betrayed, Janine and Dougie – brought together in Stevie’s moment of crisis – know they must see beyond the past if they’re to secure their daughter’s future. But even with such a lot at stake, can a relationship with so many complications ever have a future.
Touching and heartfelt, The Love Child is a story about discovering what matters most in your life, and having the courage to reach for it – not just once, but again and again.
Before I Knew You
Would you swap houses for the summer with a family of strangers?
For Sophie and Andrew, exchanging their shabby West London home for a stylish Connecticut house seems the perfect chance to escape from the daily grind, and inject some new life into their marriage.
In return, newlyweds William and Beth are looking to spend some time in London with William’s teenaged sons. Ex-pat William relishes the opportunity but Beth, his American wife, doesn’t find London – or her stepsons – quite as welcoming as she’d hoped.
Over the course of the summer these four lives intertwine with dramatic consequences no one could have foreseen. The house swap brings to light devastating secrets and lies and the two marriages – one crushed by the weight of years, one shiny and new – begin to slide into reverse…
If Life Begins at Forty, then Charlotte Turner’s not off to the best of starts. On top of a recent divorce, and trouble with her twelve-year-old son, the husband of her closest friend has just started to show a bit too much interest in her as a newly-single woman.
But only when Charlotte has faced up to some uncomfortable truths about her past can she finally shed the unhappy skin she’s been so comfortable in, and open up her life – and her heart – to all the promise and possibility that her future holds.
Is life, for Charlotte, about to begin at last…?
The Simple Rules of Love
For some families, a year can feel like a lifetime …
The Harrisons are a large and extremely close-knit family. But with the grandchildren fast becoming adults and elderly Pamela struggling to adapt to widowhood and the emptiness of Ashley House, the four children of the middle generation find themselves equally lost in a changing world.
As preparations for 42 year-old Cassie’s long-awaited wedding gather pace and an exotic family holiday is planned, sibling and marital bonds are stretched to breaking point: adultery, an unwanted pregnancy, shadows of past losses … suddenly a year of celebration threatens to become one of painful upheaval.
Beset by such emotional chaos, how can the adults hope to guide their children in matters of the heart? Or are the children the ones who should be guiding them?
Relative Love is a heart-rending story of loss and love, covering one year in the lives of the Harrison family, a sprawling clan doing their best to hold together in the face of a changing world. The story opens as the Harrisons gather for Christmas at their big country house. But when tragedy strikes, of the most unforeseeable and devastating kind, they are torn apart. Harsh truths emerge, about the past as well as the present, laying bare the fragility of their happiness and all that they have taken for granted.
A Family Man
A Family Man tells the story of thirty one year old Matt Webster, who arrives home from work one day to find that his wife, Kath, has walked out, leaving him to care for their four year old son.
Shock and hurt are compounded by the challenge of suddenly having to juggle work with being a single parent. While the needs of his confused, unhappy little son come first, Matt embarks on the difficult quest to find out what could have driven his wife to abandon their child. It is only as the truth emerges that he learns the full heartbreak and joy of unconditional love.
After twenty years of contentedly playing the role of home-maker and mother, Frances Copeland’s life is shattered by the sudden death of her husband. With no career to fall back on and her son and daughter leaving home, the solitude of bereavement hits particularly hard.
When new love beckons, in the form of a handsome young man fifteen years her junior, Frances is torn. She longs to open her heart again but does not dare to trust her feelings. Turning to her closest friends for help, she is met by a wall of judgemental attitudes and envy.
Distracted by the predicament, her fragile confidence wavering, she fails to observe the crises spiraling out of control in the lives of her two children. A sudden tragic accident brings her to her senses, but it may already be too late. Not even the strongest love cannot sit around for ever.
Out of Print Titles
Sisters & Husbands
Beautiful Anna Lawrence, with a successful career in broadcasting and marriage to a wealthy man with a luxurious country home, has everything a thirty-two year old could wish for. Until she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, too late to do anything about it. Her sister Becky longs for children but her husband, a struggling chef, has told her they have to put family life on hold for a few more years. Anna’s pregnancy uncovers fractures in the sisters’ relationship going back years, and the ramifications affect everyone in their lives.
Annie and Marina have shared a London flat for years, and in spite of very different outlooks on life have become very close. Annie, a newspaper columnist, is unsure of herself and eager, longing to find the man of her dreams who will always give her the life she has always wished for. Marina works in the City, is beautiful, confident, and in spite of having the pick of the most eligible men in the financial world, is content to be single and concentrate on her career. So of course it’s Marina who falls, totally unexpectedly, head over heals in love with the last man on earth you’d expect to see her with. And Annie is left, feeling very alone, facing the prospect of her worst fears coming true.
On the same afternoon that a terrorist bomb sends tremors through the ancient foundations of their town, the fuse of infidelity is ignited. And others are caught in the crossfire, among them an anguished, lovelorn priest, and an ill-intentioned neighbour with a dubious agenda…
Rachel Elliot is single and attractive, a director of a successful advertising firm with a handsome lover and several close friends. But as her 40th birthday approaches, she feels a sense of futility. Rachel decides the answer to her problem is to have a child of her own.
A Summer Affair
Nicholas is in his early forties, has been married for nearly twenty years to a wife he still adores. Kate is lively, vibrant, enthusiastic; Nicholas feels old, decaying, ineffectual. How can someone like her possibly still love a man as depressing as him? Kate, who does love Nicholas – enormously – has noticed that her husband’s unhappy but he won’t tell her why. Her response is to be especially loving when she’s with him, and to keep very busy so she doesn’t have to be with him as often as before. Thus are the seeds of disharmony sown, because Nicholas, of course, is now convinced that Kate is having an affair…
Walls of Glass
While many regard her marriage with admiration and a trace of envy, Jane Lytton quietly reaches the shocking conclusion that her relationship with Michael, a successful banker with little time for the nitty-gritty of family life, has failed.
Jane’s decision to leave a man who does not love her, but who has shown no obvious signs of abuse or neglect of her or their children, is greeted with a mixture of vitriol and uncomprehending sympathy by family and friends. Help and strength come from the most unlikely direction, but then Jane is thrown off balance once more. When her vision at last clears to reveal her best chance of happiness, it seems she may have left it too late.
A Cast of Smiles
Veronica’s group of friends are well-to-do professionals, intent on keeping up a charade of well-being and success. On the surface everything is fine: Julian and Veronica get married; Teddy tells good jokes; Gloria chases men.
Trouble brews, however, when the sinister Katherine Vermont becomes obsessed with the deceitful activities of her ex-lover, Julian. The tragedy that finally erupts shows the high price that can be paid for emotional dishonesty – to oneself as well as to others.
On the day that her youngest child leaves home, Alice Hatton discovers two disturbing truths in a matter of hours. The Empty Nest cliché is absolutely true, and she does not love her husband Peter at all.
Horrified by the thought of spending another thirty years with Peter in their North London suburb, Alice embarks on a dubious course of self-fulfilment. When she must cope with loss for the second time, she discovers what even the most respectable woman can be capable of.