Growing Up For Beginners by Claire Calman
Some people like to begin at the endWhen Eleanor waves her daughter off for a gap-year trip, she finds herself stuck as a satellite wife, spinning in faithful orbit around her domineering husband, with only her clever but judgmental father Conrad for comfort. Andrew isn’t mastering the art of growing up either. But when he finds his belongings dumped in bin bags on the drive, even he can see that his girlfriend is hinting he should move out. With no other options, he moves back in with his parents. Backing onto their garden lives artist Cecilia, living in chaotic clutter and dreaming of her ex-lovers, still acting like a stroppy teenager at the age of 66. Four lives are drawn together by long-buried secrets of the past, and it is time for them all to grow up… before it’s too late.
Growing Up For Beginners is a story about relationships, family, discovery of self, and ultimately moving on.
I liked this book a lot, however with four main characters – Eleanor, Conrad, Andrew and Cecilia – each with their own story to tell, I found that the storylines for each and therefore the overall plot took a while to develop and unfold. Each of the four characters is connected in some way, but the discovery of how is slowly revealed. Altogether, it is well written and without a single loose end leftover.
Each character is complex, though some not particularly likeable. They all have quirks and flaws, and most have quite endearing personalities that shine through the pages. The one thing I will say is that I found myself getting quite frustrated with Eleanor and just how much she was willing to put up with.
I give this book 4/5 because it is a slower paced beginning, but it is a really great read for anyone looking for something slow and thoughtful.