‘Not Having It All’ by Jennie Ensor

Not Having It All: a brazen comedy about the perils of midlife by [Ensor, Jennie]


Neuroscientist Bea Hudson fears she is a bad mother and that her career will be thwarted by family life. When her husband suspects Bea of having an affair with her best friend, a chain of events is triggered, leading to a crisis in Bea’s life.

Bea Hudson, a neuropsychologist living in Godalming, is struggling to cope with the challenging behaviour of her obsessive husband Kurt and their disruptive four-year-old daughter Fran. On top of this, her boss is pressuring her to get results from her research. Bea has her work cut out.

Things come to a head when Kurt goes away on an extended business assignment. While sacking staff and drinking heavily, Kurt’s insecurities run amok and he becomes convinced that Bea’s close friend Madeleine is seducing his wife and unduly influencing his daughter.

Meanwhile, childless artist Madeleine sees her friend torn between the demands of work and offers to help with Fran. But when she reveals a startling desire to her unsympathetic therapist Mr Rowley, he advises her to focus on the attention of Colin, a man she met in a lift. 

Can Bea survive the demands of her career and the turmoil in her marriage without having a breakdown? Can Madeleine survive Kurt’s anger and find happiness with Colin? And can love survive marriage, middle-age, alcohol and ambition?


My Review

If there’s one thing I like, it’s discovering new authors.  Jennie Ensor is certainly a new author to me and boy what an author she is.  Judging by how much I enjoyed ‘Not Having It All’, I will most definitely be reading Jennie’s other books.  I absolutely loved ‘Not Having It All’ but more about that in a bit.

I have to say that I loved the weird and wonderful cast of characters in this book.  I can’t say that I especially warmed to any of them, nor did I have a particular favourite.  Each of the characters would switch between amusing me greatly and then irritating me to the point of wanting to slap them silly with a wet flannel.  Two that particularly grabbed my attention were Kurt and Bea Hudson.  They are married with a young daughter but both work extremely hard and in fields that couldn’t be more different if they tried.  They don’t communicate very well with each other and both have paranoid thoughts about what the other one is up to with not a lot of evidence to support their paranoid thoughts.   Kurt irritated me the most.  He had too much time on his hands, whilst he is staying in a hotel overseas as he is working abroad.  I do think that spying on his wife is going a tad too far.

‘ Not Having It All’ is one of those books that comes along at exactly the right time.  I was in need of a light hearted, fun, humorous and occasionally dramatic read that would take me away from real life for a while.  This book ticked those boxes and more.  I binge read the book over the course of a couple of days.  I would pick the book up only intending to read a couple of chapters and then I would still be sat there reading half a dozen chapters later.  I immersed myself in the weird and wonderful lives of the characters in the book and I found reading this book to be extremely addictive.  I felt as though I was an addict in need of my next fix.  If I had to put the book down then I would immediately look forward to being able to pick it up again.  Reading about other people’s lives in this book certainly made mine look relatively normal and boring in comparison.  I was disappointed to finish this book because I was enjoying it so much that I wanted the book to continue.

In my opinion, ‘Not Having It All’ is very well written.  There are a fair few characters in this book and I must admit that I was a bit concerned as to whether or not I would remember who was who and how they would slot into the story.  I needn’t have worried though because I remembered every character and all of the characters interlinked and slotted perfectly into the story.  The author has a knack of drawing you into the story from the start and dangles enough bait to keep you interested all the way through.  I also think that she has a way of making you feel as though you are part of the story yourself.  That’s what happened to me anyway.  I found that I was beginning to interact with the book and ‘talked’ to the characters as if they could hear me.

‘Not Having It All’ is one of those books that has a bit of everything.  There’s drama, humour and love in there and I loved it!!  I would definitely be recommending this book to other readers.  As I indicated above, I will definitely be reading Jennie’s other books just as soon as I can.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.

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