Only a couple of days ago I was saying how much I love book clubs and it’s so true! I love the diversity that is offered in a situation where you’re asked to read a specific book – All of a sudden you’re reading the sort of genre that you’ve experienced a bit and enjoyed but don’t go back to time after time (what can I say, I’m a fantasy sort of girl!) and you’re Really enjoying it! And that’s what happened with Nicola May’s ‘At the School Gates’.
You have a mum who no one really knows as her au-pair is, normally, the one who brings her daughter to and from school. You also have the mum who’s got something unhappy going on at home but is, dearly, trying to hold on and shelter her daughter from it all. As well as that you have a super mum who, somehow, manages to get her unruly bunch to school on time despite the trials and tribulations of a big family. The last mum is an ex au-pair who married the father of the family she worked of and who is a natural, loving mum but seeks something else from life. And that’s not to forget the Dad of the group who’s a gay man bringing up his deceased sisters twins and trying to give them the perfect life that she wished for them.
The story slips in and out of the various threads of the story at such a pace that I was a little uncertain to begin with – I felt as though it was a little too quick and it wasn’t allowing enough time, or detail, to get to know each set of characters fully. But, as I carried on reading, I found that the author had found just the right balance in that respect; the speed kept the story moving along very quickly but as things progressed there was just the right amount of detail and time with each character to give a really in depth representation of who they were (Or so you may think, ahaaaa!)
The dramas of these characters were intense and plentiful and there was so much indiscretion going on that it was hard to really love any of the characters but that really didn’t matter as I still found myself liking them Despite their indiscretions. The volume of dramas may have been more than you’d expect from one group of people but the ways in which May portrayed each drama, and the ways in which the characters dealt with them really did smack of realism – It felt as though it was a series of very believable experiences, just mixed together in the boiling pot that is ‘The School gates’.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable book and having the chance to interact with Nicola May during a twitter chat for the book club was just wonderful; a terribly inspiring lady who’s achieved so much just by the strength of her own convictions and her own creativity. I loved her book and have come away feeling my own ambitions renewed by her kind and motivational words.
Of course, before I close, a mention must be made of the biscuits – A major perk of being involved in a book club run by a fabulous brand like Bahlsen is the addition of biscuits… the world is always a better place when there’s biscuits. In fact they’ve turned the book club into the culmination of some of my favourite things, books, biscuits and the chance to talk about books! Not much more I can say about that!