review by Leslie Farin
And Then There’s Margaret
And Then There’s Margaret – Book Review
And Then There’s Margaret was a quick and entertaining read. The characters were flawed, as we all are, and therefore relatable. The protagonist, Allie, struggles with midlife and her negativity as she juggles family relationships and responsibilities, friendships, her changing body and more.
The story revolves primarily around Allie’s difficult relationship with her mother-in-law, Margaret, who is an exaggerated and comical version of every married woman’s worst nightmare. Allie wants a better relationship, but Margaret’s overcritical and controlling personality makes that difficult. Or at least, that’s what Allie tells herself. As is always the case, there are two sides to every story, and it takes Allie until after her beloved father-in-law passes to find it in her heart to try to understand why Margaret is the way she is. Once she does, she is able to muster up empathy for her and respond in kinder and better ways to Margaret’s acidic comments. Ultimately, the lesson learned from this book is a good one, and the reader is left wishing it did not take as long as it did for the relationship to improve.
As a woman about the same age as Allie, I understood many aspects of Allie’s life and feelings. I especially felt her pain when her husband did not fully support and protect her when it came to his mother who interfered excessively in their lives. He was a sweet guy in an impossible situation, sandwiched between two women he loved. However, when a man marries, it’s my feeling that he could have and should have set firmer boundaries. Since he did not, Allie’s frustration is understandable.
The writing was crisp, fresh, and often quite funny. Carolyn Clarke writing style is skillful and engaging, and the book held my interest from the start. I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented author!
About the Author
Carolyn Clarke is an author, blogger and instructor.
She is the founder and curator of HenLit Central, a blog focused on ‘life and lit’ for women over 40. And Then There’s Margaret is her first novel. She’s been an ESL teacher for over sixteen years and co-authored several articles and resources with Cambridge University Press, MacMillan Education and her award-winning blog ESL Made Easy. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner, Tony, her two daughters and her bulldog, Sophie.