☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆
What it’s about:
What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?
Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Amanda Prowse has written a deeply layered story of family, trust and resiliency. She has created empathetic characters and a plausible premise for a thought-provoking novel. In The Art of Hiding, Ms. Prowse explores the differences between the “haves” and “have-nots”, mental health, the meaning of taking care of your family.
The story begins virtually at Finn’s demise, so readers only get Nina’s side of their marital story. Nina was young and living in poverty when she met Finn McCarrick, and she falls easily under his spell. He offers her a trouble-free life, and he too easily convinced her to give up her dreams of becoming a nurse. Nina doesn’t realize until Finn is gone that she has given up so much more than a career by giving in to his wishes for where and how she lives.
Finn is a Jekyll and Hyde character. I haven’t decided if he was a loving, caring husband trying to ensure he wife never has to go wanting again, or if he was controlling and used his wife’s insecurities to keep her isolated and basically in servitude to him (acting as housekeeper and nanny). Nina’s memories of him vacillate between his loving gestures to what she views as her waiting on him like a servant.
Tiggy—the would-be-astronaut –who lives above the pub at which she tends bar is a constant reminder to Nina of what her life could have been. Instead of showing her older sister compassion and helping her, Nina blindly doled out trivial trinkets and bits of money as holiday gifts presuming Tiggy will buy some pretty flowers instead of paying down the electric bill. Tiggy’s renewed presence in Nina’s life and her generosity are a mirror in which Nina can now see how she cocooned herself in Finn’s world and rejected her family as the constant reminder of the past she desperately wanted to leave behind.
Ms. Prowse deftly created a marital situation that could have weathered all of its fissures had there been more trust and communication. Nina completely and blindly trusted Finn. He either didn’t trust Nina’s fortitude or didn’t trust her love for him. Tiggy offers the viewpoint that Nina is a much stronger person than her late husband, and she sagely helps Nina remember the art of survival. Together, Tiggy and Nina, teach Nina’s sons, Declan and Connor, resiliency.
In different ways, and for different reasons, Nina and Finn have both mastered the “art of hiding”. Ms. Prowse’s novel is about how they hid, why they hid, and the tenacity it takes to stop hiding and face a situation head-on.