We really want to support Birmingham authors. Here we review Park Life by local writer Katherine D'Souza.
Park Life by Katharine D'Souza
Reviewer: Kate M
I enjoyed this book, perhaps because I am so familiar with the areas’ of Birmingham, in which it is set.
I have been a regular visitor at Cannon Hill Park myself, since childhood, it’s one of my favourite places in Birmingham to walk and pass time; especially on warm sunny days. I have also been lucky enough to discover the private park in Moseley which the Author writes about and that IS, one of Birmingham’s best kept secrets.
Katherine’s book made me think how important green spaces are within cities and how grateful I am to Louisa Ryland, who donated the land where Cannon Hill Park sits, for the use and enjoyment of the city residents. What an amazing lady she must have been. (Going off on a bit of a tangent there). Possibly, because another book written by the same Author, Deeds not Words, came to mind.
Susan was a likeable character, who I warmed to immediately. I admired her for making the difficult decision to leave her selfish husband, Pete. I thought about the tough challenges women face, when they decide enough is enough, and leave a miserable marriage. I felt that things were really going to change positively for Susan, until she totally pi**ed me off and made the stupid decision to return to the miserable, control freak of a husband Pete, because he couldn’t cope without her.
I felt like she caved in too soon, this made me groan. Would someone really go to the extremes she had, preparing her secret getaway, planning for months, uprooting her whole life? Only to return some weeks later when her husband, ends up in hospital with a broken arm, after going out and getting off his face and then driving his car home. Why do us women do the massive guilt thing?
I know someone who did something similar and left her marriage.Her husband was really angry when she left. I remember asking her if life was greener on the other side and she said no, there were things she missed about her old life, so it is feasible I suppose.
I couldn’t imagine anyone strolling back in to a relationship, quite so casually, given the secretive way in which she left. Real life isn’t like that. Is it? Susan and Pete seemed a little too easy going to me and that didn’t seem to tie in with her intial reasons for leaving him in the first place. Though I’m sure pressure from their equally selfish son, what’s his name…. oh yeah Jamie, weakened her resolve to stay away. Anyway, she went back and nothing much changed, until we discover he’s done the dirty too. Real life is so like this. Finally, Susan gets her mojo back and dumps the selfish sod for good, with no more useless feelings of guilt. Well done, that woman.
Susan’s neighbour Craig, who she befriends when she moves to Birmingham was also a pretty laid back type of character. His ex-girlfriend informs him 2 years after the birth of Wolfgang, that “Wolfie” is in fact his child and not the child of his best mate, who did the dirty on him, shacking up with his girlfriend, behind his back. Surely, he would have heard on the grapevine, or found out she was pregnant after the end of their relationship. Wouldn’t you be curious to know that, that child could be yours? Relationships do end, but when a child arrives, would you really wait two years before deciding you want proof positive that, that kid is yours, especially when your partner was already living with someone else when you go jumping in. Craig’s so called mate Trev turned out to be. Why would you then agree to go and have a pint together. Trev says he couldn’t live with the thought of keeping Wolfie from him. Well in actual fact, he did, for 2 years and Craig’s response is “Right”. He should have decked him and laid him flat out..
Craig has his own challenges to deal with. Coming to terms with being a dad, his job is under threat and to top it all, his mum isn’t very well either. This is real life and I liked how their paths had crossed and they were able to share their problems with each other, given the age gap between them.
Susan’s employers in the Kings Heath Café sounded like a lot of fun and I wish this place actually existed, because I’d be there every week too, for the great food and more importantly, the banter. The respite a simple café can provide in our increasingly busy lives is huge. I like nothing better than to sit in a decent café and enjoy a great cup of coffee too. So I was chuffed when Andy fell for Susan, and the feeling was mutual. I would like to have shaken her for going back to Alcester though, to that loser. Yet, if I’d been in her shoes, thinking about it, I probably would have done the same. Note to self, do not go looking for a life partner in Alcester, if Pete is anything to go by.
Once Susan finally came to her senses, and leaves for a second time, I knew the feel good factor was on its way, in droves. Susan returns to Birmingham, returns to Tall Trees to the tree hugging Andy, bless.
Craig, does the selfless thing and steps up to the plate for the adorable Wolfie , turns down the offer of a new job in London. Finally makes his move on Amisha and that goes better than he expected. His mum moves to Weston, to live with her sister and they all live happily ever after. We hope.
I liked the easy style of this book, the parks too. Let’s hope Wolfie’s parents change his name by deed poll before he starts school. All in all, a pretty enjoyable book. I loved the cover too. Especially the trees!!! I think this is the longest review I’ve ever written. Well done Katherine D’Souza.