Homecoming by Catrin Collier
My 12-year old bought this for me for my birthday. He was enticed by the cover, read the blurb and decided it was a Mum book.
It's the third in a series, which I didn't realise, though part way through I guessed it must be. The characters were related to each other in such complex ways - two friend married to two brothers, a third friend married to the father of the first, and a fourth friend whose mother is married to the uncle of the second. And they all live in each other's basement or attic flats. I was confused for a while, but now I realise it's part of a trilogy that explains it all!
It's set in the 1950s, and deals with the subject of pregancies, wanted and unwanted. Helen's husband is back from his National Service in Cyprus. While there, he had a brief fling with an officer's widow which has left her pregnant, while Helen can't have children. Two of Helen's friends are also pregnant. As is another girl, the flatmate of the fourth friend, out of wedlock. The plot rattles along at a fair old pace, much of the story being told via dialogue between the various characters. I didn't get much of a sense of place, though the book is set in South Wales. I also found the overuse of dialogue tags quite overbearing after a while - my personal preference is to stick to 'said' most of the time, use other tags sparingly.
The best thing about this book (apart from it being a thoughtful present from my darling!) is the depiction of 1950s attitudes towards pregnancy. The unwanted babies are born in a home for unmarried mothers, and reading about it made me very glad to have been a product of a different, more accepting era.