Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernadine Bishop

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This is a vibrant and even welcoming novel, though it's substantially concerned with last things. Only the title lets it down, being a sort of kaftan, something designed to fit everyone that suits no one.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award Cecilia Banks has a great deal on her plate. But when her son Ian turns up on her doostep with the unexpected consequence of a brief fling, she feels she has no choice but to take the baby into her life. Cephas's arrival is the latest of many challenges Cecilia has to face. There is the matter of her cancer, for a start, an illness shared with her novelist friend Helen. Then there is Helen herself, whose observations of Cecilia's family life reveal a somewhat ambivalent attitude to motherhood. Meanwhile Tim, Cecilia's husband, is taking self-effacement to extremes, and Ian, unless he gets on with it, will throw away his best chance at happiness. Cecilia, however, does not have to manage alone. In a convent in Hastings sits Sister Diana Clegg who holds the ties that bind everyone not only to each other, but to strangers as yet unmet. As events unfold and as the truth about Cephas is revealed, we are invited to look closely at madness, guilt, mortal dread and the gift of resilience. No one will remain unchanged. 'Frank, courageous and entertaining. I felt better for reading it' Margaret Drabble
 

About Bernadine Bishop

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The great-granddaughter of the poet Alice Meynell, Bernardine Bishop is one of only two surviving witnesses from the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960. After writing two early novels, she taught in a London comprehensive school for ten years and then went on to have a distinguished career as a psychotherapist, during which she brought up her two sons. Cancer forced her retirement in 2010 and she returned to her first love, fiction. Bernardine Bishop lives in London with her husband.
 
Published January 17, 2013 by John Murray. 384 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Unexpected Lessons in Love
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jane Housham on Jul 26 2013

You will not be so afraid of cancer after reading this book...Her cool insights illuminate her characters with kindly but searching light and remind us that our primary task is to try to come to self-knowledge.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Adam Mars-Jones on Jan 20 2013

This is a vibrant and even welcoming novel, though it's substantially concerned with last things. Only the title lets it down, being a sort of kaftan, something designed to fit everyone that suits no one.

Read Full Review of Unexpected Lessons in Love | See more reviews from Guardian

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65%

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