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  • John Murray
  • John Murray

Unexpected Lessons in Love

Bernardine Bishop

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

With the wit of Marina Lewycka, the piercing observation of Jane Gardam, and the bittersweet charm of Mary Wesley, this will appeal to all who loved MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND or THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY.

Cecilia Banks has a great deal on her plate. But when her son Ian turns up on her doorstep with the unexpected consequence of a brief fling, she feels she has no choice but to take the baby into her life. Cephas's arrival is the latest of many challenges Cecilia has to face. There is the matter of her cancer, for a start, an illness shared with her novelist friend Helen. Then there is Helen herself, whose observations of Cecilia's family life reveal a somewhat ambivalent attitude to motherhood. Meanwhile Tim, Cecilia's husband, is taking self-effacement to extremes, and Ian, unless he gets on with it, will throw away his best chance at happiness.

Cecilia, however, does not have to manage alone. In a convent in Hastings sits Sister Diana Clegg who holds the ties that bind everyone not only to each other, but to strangers as yet unmet. As events unfold, and as the truth about Cephas is revealed, we are invited to look closely at madness, guilt, mortal dread and the gift of resilience. No one will remain unchanged.

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Praise for Unexpected Lessons in Love

  • This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in years. I found it completely gripping. The carefully but unobtrusively structured plot (involving adoption, DNA and paternity) is domestic but with a wide reach; it is played out against a backdrop of world events. On reflection, I have never before read a book which confronts a serious and almost unmentionable illness with such lightness of touch. It's happy and it's cheering, with a beautiful warmth to it, achieved without a moment of sentimentality. I loved it - Margaret Drabble

  • A remarkable, immensely readable and warm-hearted book - Sunday Express

  • A refreshingly candid, unexpectedly witty and ultimately moving tale - Candis, Jan 2013

  • A charming, playful novel - Red

  • Bishop treats a fearful subject with an extraordinary lightness of touch; her humour and her emotional wisdom make this a delightful and humane novel - The Times

  • This novel, wise, sharp and startlingly frank, distils a lifetime of reflection on the rules of attraction, affection - and family life. From confused youth to the ordeals and confusions of old age, her wry insights delight' - Independent

  • A wonderful novel, one of those rare books which leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of the human heart . . . This is an author of exceptional intelligence, subtlety and warmth. Expect to hear the name Be

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Bernardine Bishop

The great-granddaughter of the poet Alice Meynell, Bernardine Bishop was the youngest witness in the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960. After writing two early novels, she taught in a London comprehensive school for ten years and then had a distinguished career as a psychotherapist, during which she brought up her two sons. Cancer forced her retirement in 2010 and she returned to her first love, fiction. Bernardine Bishop lived in London with her husband, until her death in July 2013.

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