Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd

"Everyone makes mistakes, Annie. That's life. You can only do what you're capable of at the time." 

Title - Tangled Lives 
Author - Hilary Boyd
Publication Date - August 30th 2012
Publisher - Quercus 
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 353

The blurb

Annie Delancey is happily married, in her early 50s, with three grown children. But Lizzie guards a dark secret. At age 18 she had a baby boy, and gave him up for adoption. She still thinks of him every day. Then, out of the blue, she receives an official-looking letter from Kent Social Services. Her son, Daniel, wants to make contact. On one hand she is overjoyed - she longs to meet him. On the other, she has never told her children that they have another sibling. Tangled Lives follows the effect this revelation has on her family, as, with Daniel as the catalyst, a few small tears in the family fabric suddenly gape wide.

Becca's thoughts

Hilary Boyd has taken a hard-hitting issue, and wrapped it up in cups of tea, a family home and warmth. I absolutely loved reading Tangled Lives. It was emotional, it packed a punch and I found myself dithering between laughter and sadness.

Firstly, Hilary Boyd's cover for Tangled Lives is perfect. I adore it. All the flowers and the pretty patterns make for an eye-catcher, and I can tell you now, it definitely caught my eye. The title is also absolutely spot-on for the plot of the story, because in all fairness, that is what the story delves into. Tangled Lives.

Hilary begins Tangled Lives by taking you back in time to Kent, 1967. The prologue is short, and instantly catches your attention due to the emotional depth of what's happening. This is where we are first introduced to the main character in the story, Annie. It is the moment where Annie last lays her eyes on her beautiful baby boy, Tom, before being driven away in her mother's car. Hilary's prologue was bitter-sweet. Annie's love for her son was evident, but it was clear that she didn't have a choice in the matter.

Chapter One begins in North London, bringing you back to the present day in 2002. Annie is now completely settled into her life. She is married to Richard, they have three grown children and she works in a cake-shop creating luxury masterpieces for tasteful events. Hilary re-creates the perfect family breakfast. Annie and Richard, as well as their three children and their eldest son's girlfriend, are all sitting around the kitchen table, digging into breakfast. And that's when it happens. Slap bang in the middle of all the normalcy, Annie picks up the letter that changes everything.

The baby boy that she had never forgotten appears back in her life as if he'd never left. Suddenly, Annie's ordered life is thrown up into the air, and she's left to watch as the pieces scatter all around her and her beloved family.

I knew from the moment that Annie had held that letter in her hand at the kitchen table, that this was her son contacting her. My heart was in my mouth and I did actually hold my breath as she opened it up and read it. I think that is one of the most important moments in Tangled Lives, and it's definitely made to appear so with how Hilary writes. Annie gets up from the table, leaving her family downstairs, and reads it on her own in the bedroom. What I loved was the fact that she instantly knew that she was going to meet him, even though she appeared to dither and uhhm and ahhh about it. She knew deep down that not a thing in the world was about to stop her.

What ensues is a crazy, non-stop battle. That's how it felt to me anyway. Annie trying to bring her son into the family, and certain family members trying to lock him out. It seemed as though, as soon as Daniel (Tom's new given name) appeared, everything just went mental. Annie's eldest son, Ed,  fires off and becomes distant for reasons of his own, Annie's husband, Richard, suddenly begins to work later nights, coming home drunk and collapsing on the sofa. It was an absolute scene of madness, carelessness and confusion. None of them are quite sure of whether they're coming or going. As Annie watches, her homelife begins to tremble and fall to the ground right in front of her, and she doesn't have a clue of how to fix it.

As well as the subject of adoption, there were so many other issues happening just underneath the surface too. I found Tangled Lives to be a very complex, but easy to read book, that intrigued and enchanted me with it's many bumps in the road. Hilary's characters were all fantastically built-up and each seemed incredibly real to me, which is something that I just love to find in a book.

Becca's Books is giving Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd a brilliant rating of 5/5 stars! I loved reading it and I was completely engrossed in the plot. It was constantly moving and definitely kept me engaged.

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