Publishing year: 2016
The prologue starts with Nancy, a little girl, who before Christmas visits London with her parents and her older brother Joel and wishes to see Father Christmas at Hamleys.
They are on a London bus, and somehow Nancy can feel her father’s anger, and in her child’s she starts thinking how it would be much better with just Joel and her mum, wishing her father would go. Then when the bus stops and her father alights before the whole family, Nancy panics, thinking that her wish will come true and her dad will go and she won’t see him again, but to her relief her father is there, but he sounds distant and cold.
Nancy’s wish seems to have come true to an extent. Her parents, Caitlin and Patrick, are getting divorced and seeing a mediator about certain issues about the separation. We learn that Caitlin and Patrick met six years ago when Caitlin’s car broke down, and Patrick was the only one who stopped to save her and Joel as he called the AA, and from then on they became a couple, eventually got married, and had a child together. It seems that the relationship between them cooled down as Patrick was always at work, and when he was home, they were both very tired with two demanding children. What triggered this separation is when Patrick’s company sent him to its branch in Newcastle, and Caitlin refused to go as she felt that the marriage was already wounded, and she didn’t want to uproot their children, move them to the other side of the country and then get back after her marriage failed.
Now as they are in mediation, Patrick is quite focused on their finances, but the mediator, Andrea, thinks they should talk about arrangements for the children. We know that Joel is not Patrick’s biological son, but he claims to love him as if he were his. Joel’s birth father was never in the picture, and Joel doesn’t even remember him. Patrick tells the mediator that he wants to be involved in his children’s upbringing, and Caitlin worries that it will be too hard for the children to travel hundreds of miles every other weekend, so the mediator suggests a middle way, so Patrick thinks that his sister Eva could be the person as the middle ground. Caitlin is unsure about the arrangement as Eva is a widow, and her house is spotless, white and glass everywhere, showing she has no children, and her only company are her dogs, and Caitlin also worries how the interaction between the children and the dogs will be like as Joel can be quite reckless and Nancy too touchy.
Interesting start. I am so sorry for this family. I think that these two people still love each other, but the problem is that communication has stopped and they are not ready to make concessions for each other.