I’ve known Jane Wenham-Jones for years. A real life-enhancer, usually sporting rainbow-coloured hair, Jane writes novels, short stories and columns, interviews authors at literary events and often pops up on TV and radio too. It’s been a while since she wrote a novel though so I was eagerly anticipating her new book, Mum in the Middle.
I’m pleased to report that it’s a cracker of a book, mainly because Jane has chosen a subject that’s all too pertinent to our lives.
Tess, the star of the book, is the archetypal sandwich mum. In other words, she’s desperately worried about her mother, who’s showing the first signs of dementia and has a tendency to wander off unexpectedly, often in her nightie, and about her three children, who are supposed to be grown-ups but keep boomeranging back to the family home. At the same time, divorcee Tess is desperately trying to make a new life in a new town, find friends and keep her freelance designer job on track.
Jane writes about all these things with wisdom, humour and real insight. Tess herself feels very real, the sort of person you’d like to have as a friend – which, come to think of it, is pretty much like Jane herself.
My favourite character of all is Malcolm, the gruff local newspaper editor who befriends Tess. Grumpy and kind-hearted by turns, he’s been married twice, drinks too much and has a tendency to fly off the handle when young reporters get stories spectacularly wrong.
Mum in the Middle is an enjoyable read, poignant and funny by turns. If you’re caring for your elderly parents while supporting your teenage and 20-something children this is definitely the book for you.
Mum in the Middle by Jane Wenham-Jones (HarperImpulse, £7.99)