“What’s mine, I keep.”
Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.
Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.
Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?
Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.
Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.
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I remember choosing to read this story and adding it to my Kindle a long time before I began reading it. And I jumped right in without re-reading the blurb, only to learn – at the end – that it was based on a true story.
The author dropped us effortlessly in the 60s with intricate details of the era, from the food (chops and boiled potatoes for tea) to colour TVs, Brylcreem, and housecoats. It was such a depiction of family life, that I began to wonder what the story was – was this a memoir or was there more to come? Well, now I know it was a bit of both but with so much more to come.
Looking back, after reading the whole story, it points to the author’s skill as a writer that those normal, everyday activities coupled with strong family drama (of the kind we now see as normal – unmarried mums, career women, & divorce but which, back then, were considered anything but the norm), built up to such an emotional and compelling story. I have to admit to not liking Lily very much at first. Her husband Jack seemed such a lovely bloke, and it hurt to see him get so upset. I was Team Jack all the way but grew to understand Lily better. How could I look down on her for following her heart? Yes, she had a touch of the Margo Leadbetter about her (The Good Life -1970s sitcom) and her sneering of Jack’s simple contentment grated on me, but what was her crime really? That she outgrew her environment, her husband and friends? This wasn’t a new development, for she had always aspired to be more than a housewife, and getting the job at a prestigious law firm proved she was more than capable. Of course, the 60s were the age of enlightenment for many, Lily included. She had more choices than women before her – though burning her “brassiere” was not for her – was she wrong to take advantage of those choices, even if it meant leaving Jack?
This was one of those stories that made me rethink my initial impression of the main character, in this case, Lily, realising that she was no monster, just a woman who fell in love with a man who wasn’t her husband. Of course, there were consequences, principally her relationship with her daughters. Who’s to say things would have been better had she stayed with Jack? Lily and Bev clashed long before that.
For me, this novel highlighted how much life has changed in just a few decades. Today, Lily’s actions wouldn’t be seen as a family scandal – of course, even today, families have to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences, but not with the same outcry and outrage from onlookers. Lily did what she felt she had to do to be happy; she didn’t set out to ruin anyone’s life, in fact quite the opposite.
Having read how life turned out for the real Jack, Bev & Caroline, it only emphasises further that we are masters of our destinies. This is a warts-and-all story, balanced in no-one’s favour and with no blame apportioned to either side. Beautifully written, emotionally powerful and truthfully told. I look forward to reading more by this author.
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