Book Club: The Making Of Christina

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Author: Meredith Jaffé
ISBN: 9781743548462
RRP: $29.99

I don’t know where to start. My heart is breaking and my mind is left reeling. This is a story that is not easy to read, it is not easy to contemplate and I am still having trouble trying to reconcile.

Time hasn’t really helped…

The Making of Christina is the second novel by Meredith Jaffé and the second we have read for book club. Jaffé’s debut was an enjoyable read that I thought was a little over the top and blown out of proportion at times, that’s definitely not how I felt about her second novel.

Christina Clemente is an interior designer and single mum; she is offered a prestigious renovation for millionaire businessman Jackson Plummer. A commission that could make her career and she throws herself into it. There’s not a lot going on in her social life so when her daughter is asleep or with her dad Christina is left with little to do, she spends the time working tirelessly on the renovations.

An intense affair with Jackson seems to cure all; he’s a balm to her loneliness and an admirable father figure to Bianca, who is only two when the pair meet. The affair is not some wild fling; they embark on a serious, yet clandestine, relationship and build a part-time life together.

The story is told on converging timelines with past and present unfolding simultaneously as we move toward a place where all of the pieces come together. Christina Clemente is the leading lady in this family drama; it’s her head we spend the present in, and her eyes through which we view the past.

The back of the book tells us that they move to a rundown rural farm where Bianca transforms from a bubbly child to a sullen teen and Bianca has a secret. I don’t want to say too much more than that because, well because SPOILERS.

In the first few chapters we find out a little about the impact that Bianca’s secret has had but not a lot about the actual secret. The details of Bianca’s secret are sketchy so you spend the bulk of the book trying to see the big picture; you have a fair idea what was happening but it’s all theoretical.

The Making of Christina was a difficult book to read, made more difficult by the fact that it could so easily happen to anyone. I wish this was a story that seemed over-dramatised and blown out of proportion but it wasn’t. It rang true, it was authentic and it broke my heart.

Our beginning is near the end of the story so we have a vague idea of what might have happened; we have that value of hindsight. The story progresses from Christina’s first meeting with Jackson Plummer right through to when the two timelines converge. We can see the warning signs, because we have extra knowledge and we are looking for the signs. Signs that any of us may have missed without the warning.

Jaffé explores the dynamics of power in families effectively and realistically. She has clearly spent time researching her material and though it breaks my heart to think these situations are so prevalent, I know that they really are. Jaffé has crafted a story that will leave you questioning how well you know those around you and how easily it could happen in your family. I am mother to a teenage daughter and all of the stories I am reading lately that feature teens leave me scared witless about all the things that could befall her, all I can do is hope that I have equipped her with the tools she needs to navigate tricky situations.

What I did love about The Making of Christina is that though Bianca is at the centre of this storyline Jaffé lets us know that it isn’t something that just happens to girls, and I think that is something that we do need to be more aware of in society.

The farm that Plummer purchases for them all to move to is rundown and in need of a lot of loving but it still has majestic bones, it has the potential to be amazing again. A perfect project for Christina to throw herself into and done right it could cement her name in interior design circles, it could be her crowning glory. It could also gain heritage listing, if only they can uncover the vital pieces of its history. This is a mystery and an undertaking that consumes much of Christina’s time, and focus.

Bartholomews Run was an interesting choice of farms. The property is huge, the house was once magnificent and the history has largely been lost. It originally belonged to an Australian artist and the slow uncovering of the story is interesting, well developed and disturbingly parallel. I think this parallel adds an extra layer to the story that may have been lacking if the place had belonged to a conservative, wealthy politician or businessman.

Jaffé deftly weaves the strands of this story to explore the power dynamics within a family and especially the balance of power that wealth can bring to a situation; the subtle moves played to create the perfect situation and the crippling effect of guilt. The guilt that mothers take on themselves for things that aren’t necessarily their fault.

I loved this book, I don’t believe anything I have said here comes close to doing it justice. I was emotionally invested throughout and for all of the not wanting to know anymore because it was hurting my heart I just couldn’t put it down, I had to keep turning the pages to get to the place where I hoped there would be closure.

This isn’t a book that could not have had a convincing happily ever after with everything tied up neatly in a bow, it would not have felt genuine but what it does have is a satisfying ending.

The Making of Christina is a story that will definitely get you thinking, and the odds are that it will resonate with many readers on some level. This is a book that was beautifully crafted with flawed characters that could be any one of us.

The Making of Christina is book #32 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Meredith Jaffé can be followed on Facebook, and Twitter.

The Making of Christina is available now from Pan Macmillan, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold..

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Making of Christina so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments. I look forward to hearing what they think.


16 thoughts on “Book Club: The Making Of Christina

  1. When I read the synopsis of the book I was really I interested in reading it based on the description of a couple moving to a run down preoperty and uncovering the history of the property. I should perhaps have read more descriptions that give clues as to the content of the book as it threw me a little when I started reading the book that it was an affair and then the darker side to the story.
    I felt the book was well written and reasearched and have read both fiction and non-fiction books that cover the same topics and with an equal amount of sensitivity and responsibility to portraying this in the right manner. Having said that, I would be conscious of who I recommend this book to as I know that it would trigger some friend’s based on their lived experiences.

  2. Wow, I don’t know where to start about this book. It has so many emotions throughout the book, there were times I felt sad, shocked, lost, and yet, wanted to know more. It is a serious storyline, and sometimes, I found myself having to put the book down, go for a little walk and then come back to it.

    It is fairly easy to read, although some parts, I had to read again to make sure I understood what was happening. The storyline is interesting and gripping, and incredibly real and confronting at certain points.
    I also liked the aspect that this book made me think of what was happening and then try to realise if I was right or not.
    This book is about a mother and teenage daughter relationship, and more. It’s also how we deal with confronting issues which happen in our society.
    It is a slightly heavy sort of read, but worth the effort once I got into it.

    Thank you BeautyandLace for this reading opportunity.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for the book to read.
    Many thanks to Meredith Jaffe for creating a story that we don’t really want to admit happens.

    Ok Here goes.
    The Making of Christina is a book about love, lies, betrayal, deception and heartbreak but it’s also so much more than that.

    Here is a story that could be a real story in anyone’s life. It’s so relevant and not really something that you think you want to read about but it’s written in a way that brings a life and a softness to it all.
    Meredith doesn’t hide the reality or the truth but encases it all in a story that strange to say becomes a must read that you will enjoy.

    It begins with Christina standing on the verandah of her mother’s house four days before Christmas wondering if her daughter Bianca is coming home for Christmas.
    The story then takes us back to Christina a single mum with a daughter Bianca who occasionally sees her father Jamie.
    We travel through the story of how Christina meets Jackson through her work and how they form a relationship. This is an interesting and enjoyable story that plays out well through the book.

    There will be a chapter every now and then that brings us back to today and the way the journey has impacted on how the lives of Christina and those around her have traveled.
    What starts out as a romantic love story turns into something so much more powerful and horrific than you could ever think.

    Every parent wants to protect their child but this story shows that sometimes love just ain’t enough and things could be happening right under your nose.

    This is such an amazing, powerful ‘real’ story that you must read.

  4. The Making of Christina by Meredith Jaffe was for me a deeply disturbing book. You are put into both the past and the present as the book progresses with the story.
    Christina Clemente is an interior designer and single mum of one, Bianca. Christina’s world is busy and revolves around her work and her daughter. Christina, being lonely after her divorce from her husband and living far from her parents leans heavily on her friends and soon becomes involved in an affair with client, Jackson Plummer.
    Jackson is wealthy, charismatic and MARRIED with 3 children. Their affair continues for many years before Jackson suggests moving to an isolated part of the country – supposedly so that his ex-wife and children will leave himself, Christina and Bianca in peace but Jackson’s motives are much more sinister.
    Whilst Christina is busy with the renovations of the house and gardens, Bianca becomes more and more withdrawn so that the once close relationship that mother and daughter shared becomes shattered. Christina is just glad that Jackson seems to have a rapport with her daughter. Little does she realise it is not all as it seems.
    I would like to thank Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read The Making of Christina, a book of which I am still of two minds about.

  5. I have to say I found this a really challenging read. The content was difficult at times, but I also found the flow a little off. I had high expectations for this book, and was left a little underwhelmed. I found this book to meander a little too much, and was somewhat predictable. The development of relationships was well captured though, however it’s hard to reconcile the character flaws in Jackson with the descriptions at the start of the book.

    I enjoyed the mysteries of Batholomews Run, and also some of the insight as to what goes on when restoring an old building. I liked the way that the characters could be related to. The way there everyday lives are described is realistic and interesting. However I found myself frustrated with the seemingly obvious which Christina was blind to.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Pan Macmillon for the opportunity to read this book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *