This pedometer geek reader recently completed reading Julie Cohen’s Dear Thing, a novel received through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. While this is the first of Cohen’s novels read, it probably won’t be the last. She has several other titles to her credit. This is, however, the extended review of Dear Thing.
by Julie Cohen
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin Press, 2016
First published in Great Britain by Bantam Press in 2013, this is the first time it has been published in the United States. This novel is probably classified as women’s literature (chick-lit), but that would be a simplistic way of describing this complex novel.
Basically, the story as indicated on the cover: “Two women. Both desperate for the same baby. Both in love with the same man.” This novel finds two women, Claire and Romily, loving the same man, Ben, (one openly and the other secretly) and the one baby who brings them all together and who may tear them all apart.
In a moment of drunken impetuousness, single mom Romily, who has been best friends with Ben since their days at university, offers to be the surrogate mother for Ben and Claire, who has been unable to carry a child to term. After years of trying to get pregnant, Claire has lost hope of ever having a child and has decided that she is through with all the IVF treatments and the pain of loss that has gone along with it. As for Romily, having already gone through one pregnancy with her daughter Posie, she knows she can have another child…one she’ll give to the couple even if it is biologically her child, too. For Ben, it seems like a dream come true; for Claire, it is more difficult to accept the idea of a child carried by Romily, a woman she knows tangentially through Ben and Posie.
Why is Romily willing to go through a pregnancy for the pair? Will her feelings for Ben cause problems, or can she keep them under wraps as the pregnancy advances? And if her secret love for him comes out, what will be the consequences for them all? The answers to these questions and more are explored as the novel continues.
Once Posie knows about the pregnancy, she refers to the child as Thing, and the name sticks. Letters addressed to Dear Thing can be found throughout the story, and they truly add to the emotionally complex content of the story. It is an emotionally heartbreaking, but uplifting story, and there are a few surprises along the way for all of them. But can there be a happily ever after for Ben and Claire? For Romily? For Posie? For Dear Thing?
In a time of books seemingly full of cookie cutter sameness, Dear Thing was refreshing for several things, one of which was Romily’s occupation of entomologist. Not often is a scientist seen as a female lead character. Another unique feature of the story was the character of Max, one of Claire’s students. During a time when Claire is feeling both sad and conflicted, the interactions between him and Claire is uplifting. Posie, too, is a distinctive character. She is an atypical eight-year-old in that, among other things, she calls her mother by her first name rather than Mum. All in all, it was a worthwhile read that this reader will recommend to friends and family.
Now it is time for this pedometer geek reader to check out some other Julie Cohen novels.