3 out of 4 stars
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A Prescription for Madness by Linda Fawke takes a look at a childless pharmacist who becomes pregnant at fifty-one years old. Although Kate is married, the pregnancy occurs after a fling with her old boyfriend Jonathan at a college reunion. In addition to the obvious “who’s the father” question, there is the risk of genetic abnormalities due to her age. As secrets are kept and she grapples with what to do about the pregnancy, Kate’s well-ordered life goes off track.
It took me a while to get into this contemporary novel. The beginning chapters are slow paced, as the main character visits different people to seek advice about her pregnancy. However, some of these attempts seem contrived. For example, her friend Becky informs her she is pregnant from an encounter with an old lover at the same college reunion. What are the chances two fiftyish women become pregnant after sex with old boyfriends at the same reunion? Adding to the weird coincidence is Kate’s growing suspicion that her husband Neil may be more than friends with Becky. Unsurprisingly, Kate decides to withhold the news about her own pregnancy.
After the first few chapters, I became quite engrossed in the plot. The story often feels more like a myriad of romantic entanglements rather than the ramifications of pregnancy at an advanced age. Still, there is an interesting subplot about Neil’s research for a photography exhibition about families who have a Down’s Syndrome child. These passages add depth to the story and are treated with sensitivity.
Kate is not easy to like, but she is a well-developed character. Her conversations with others are sometimes rude. While pregnant, Kate drinks wine, refers to the fetus as a parasite, and initiates sex with a stranger in an Italian alley. She is very self-centered; this might explain why she doesn’t wonder whether her husband might be the father of Becky’s unborn child. I found this odd since Kate already suspected he and her friend Becky might be more than friends.
The author has a nice writing style that feels effortless. It is clear the story has been edited well as I spotted only one grammatical error (a missing comma). One minor gripe is that the formatting in the PDF file is not consistent. This creates a zig-zag feel as each page is a bit to the left or right of the previous page.
This book has earned a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. The latter sections of the story are a bit busy, although the loose ends are tied up. Still, I generally enjoyed the story after the slow start. I would recommend the book to readers who like romance novels with a sprinkling of thought-provoking themes.
A Prescription for Madness
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