Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink.
The wise, witty and moving debut novel from SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink – exploring the deeper reality of marriage, parenthood and the way life thwarts our expectations.
It is summer on Magnolia Road when Juliet moves into her late mother’s house with her husband Liam and their young son, Charlie. Preoccupied by guilt, grief and the juggle of working motherhood, she can’t imagine finding time to get to know the neighbouring families, let alone fitting in with them. But for Liam, a writer, the morning coffees and after-school gatherings soon reveal the secret struggles, fears and rivalries playing out behind closed doors – all of which are going straight into his new novel . . .
Juliet tries to bury her unease and leave Liam to forge these new friendships. But when the rupture of a marriage sends ripples through the group, painful home truths are brought to light. And then, one sun-drenched afternoon at a party, a single moment changes everything.
EVERYONE IS STILL ALIVE is the story of several families who live on the same suburban street, all secretly struggling with the anxieties of the modern world whilst trying to maintain the illusion that everything is fine. This is a novel about guilt, grief, working motherhood, the mental load, envy, fear and status, but it’s also about love, friendship, community and how we figure out what really matters.
Everyone Is Still Alive is an incredibly engaging and absorbing read. Juliet is trying to cope with the loss of her mother, a loss that came too soon and has left a chasm in her life. She is now living in the house that she once visited in Magnolia Road, a place full of memory but where she feels lost. Together with husband Liam and son Charlie, she begins to rebuild her life without her mother in it. Plagued with the guilt associated with being a working mother and feeling , at times, desperately alone in the responsibilities of life, she begins to question her life and her marriage. Liam, a writer, is trying to find his next story and so turns to the occupants of Magnolia Road for inspiration and he delves into the darkness that lies beneath this middle class suburbia. It is only after tragedy strikes at a neighbours party that they begin to see the truth behind the darkness.
Some of the characters are at times hard to like but then you see between the lines, you see their struggle and what makes them act the way they do. “Everyone is fighting their own demons’ or so the saying goes, and Cathy explores that beautifully here as we peel the layers and see that things are very rarely as first perceived. By the end, as I watched the traumas unfold and then the dust settle, I felt that I was in the company of a rather wonderful group of people – ordinary people just trying to live and love well and doing the best with what life has presented them with. This novel explores relationships, friendships, love and loss, it explores the places our mind can go to when thoughts are left unsaid, and it also explores the battles that can be found in everyday life. It is beautiful, eloquent and utterly captivating – I adored it.
Many thanks to the wonderful Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the publisher, Phoenix (an imprint of Orion Books) for gifting me a review copy. Cathy is a gifted author and I long to read more from her – have now added Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books to my wish list.
About the author
Cathy Rentzenbrink grew up in Yorkshire, spent many years in London, and now lives
in Cornwall. She is the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of THE LAST ACT OF LOVE, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize, and the acclaimed memoirs A MANUAL FOR HEARTACHE and DEAR READER. EVERYONE IS STILL ALIVE is her first novel.