Author: Jane Green
I’m wondering if I need to take a moment before I start writing this to compose myself, breathe through the threat of tears and detach a little.
I love words, I am not shy to say it. I love learning new words and using obscure words. And Jane Green uses an absolute beauty in discombobulated, it did seem to be used quite a bit though. That could quite well be just me thinking it seemed like a lot because you don’t hear it very often at all but I thought I would mention it because it is still stuck in my head.
The Patchwork Marriage is a book of love, longing, loneliness and discomfit with themes and situations that I can relate to, that I can understand and that I can look back on my teenage years and really see myself in Emily’s shoes.
This book is a heartbreakingly honest look at life through the eyes of a stepmother, and her troubled rebellious teenage stepdaughter. I could see so much of myself in both Andi and Emily so the last 150 or so pages I itched for, I just wanted to keep reading to see what would happen in the end. I pined through my afternoon because I didn’t want to put the book down after lunch. I don’t know if it was because I could see so much of myself in these pages but I really wanted everyone to win, I wished for the fairy tale happily ever after for all the characters in this book because they had all earned it.
Andi is one of those women who is born to be a mother and isn’t sure it is ever going to happen for her. In her thirties she meets Ethan, falls in love and gets married. All she needs for the picture perfect life now is a child, every month sees her crossing her fingers and wishing fervently that this is the month. She has been lucky in that the man of her dreams came with two daughters for her to mother, things are never quite as simple as they seem though.
Emily is daddy’s little princess and she adores him – until she feels she has to compete with Andi for his affection. She exhibits classic teenage temper tantrums blaming Andi for everything that’s wrong in her life – mainly stealing her father and ruining her life. He used to love her before SHE came along.
Poor Ethan is firmly rooted in the middle of the mine field that is two of the most important females in his life – his new wife and his teenage daughter. Like many a father he is completely oblivious to the way Emily plays him to get his attention and drag him away for herself. Both accusing him of always taking the others side, never sticking up for me… and the list goes on.
Then there’s Sophia, the younger daughter, who clicked with Andy from the first time they met and has never been any trouble. Always being the responsible one and trying to smooth things out.
A very tense and emotionally charged environment that is accurately and honestly conveyed, it broke my heart reading how Andi was feeling so insecure and hated in her own home, always walking on eggshells trying to keep Emily happy and never knowing what mood she would get up in.
Part One is written from Andi’s point of view, this is where we get to know her and see what she goes through. The heartbreak Emily inflicts on her and how much she longs for a child, how much it hurts her that the only arguments she has with Ethan are about Emily and how close to the edge she’s sliding.
Part Two is Family and it switches POV round the family. We learn a bit of back story here through the thoughts of the players. We learn how Ethan’s first wife turns her life around, as well as how it ended up so messed up. We read about Ethan’s first heartbreak and his current fears. But most of all we get a glimpse into Emily’s troubled head.
We see the world how Emily does, we discover why it is that she is so determined to hate Andi and how difficult it is to change your outlook on life if you can’t change your self-esteem. The way we view ourselves very much impacts on our perception of the way the rest of the world sees us, and interacts with us. It honestly broke my heart, and had me tearing up, to read about the things Emily got up to. And it gives us a stark insight into the mindset behind the tantrums.
The Patchwork Marriage tells a timeless story of remoulding the family unit after a remarriage, it’s something a lot of people are going to be able to relate to on some level and it was a heartwarming coming of age story where things got to rock bottom before clawing back to a better, brighter future than anyone could have hoped for.