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Spilt Milk by Amy Beashel - Review

Thursday, April 4, 2024

When I had some gift vouchers to spend on books after my birthday, I saw this book a couple of times and nearly bought it, but made other choices instead. So I ordered it from the library instead. And I'm actually really glad I didn't waste some of my voucher on this book because I didn't like it and found it hard to read. I've been thinking about why exactly since I finished it last night, and all I can think is that neither of the main characters are nice people, and it's hard to feel sympathy for either of them. This book took me so long to read which is how I can tell that I really didn't enjoy it. 

I loved the blurb though. Bea is a teacher and a blogger. Her website is pretty popular; she writes about motherhood and her daughter Mabel. She and Craig, a hairdresser, have been together for about five years, married for four, and decided to have a child when Bea's mum was dying of cancer. Her mum only held on long enough to meet Mabel and then died. Mabel is now just over two years old and Bea is unexpectedly pregnant again. She has had an IUD fitted without Craig's knowledge and it has failed. She is pregnant.

And she is just very, very tired of life. She doesn't regret her daughter, but. She finds the labour that she is expected to do for her whole family just very, very tiring. For example, Mabel is being potty trained, so when they go out they still need to take nappies and spare pants, and Craig never thinks of this kind of thing. She is working, part time, and Craig seems to think that when she's at home with Mabel she's not really working, she's just sitting watching TV. But she knows about the cleaning, washing, all of that stuff, and she's just not sure she can do it again. She presents a perfect family life online, but life is far from that.

So she decides to have an abortion in secret. She gets an appointment on a Friday morning, on a day when Craig is in France cycling with his friend, and Bea is supposed to be travelling to London for the 30th birthday of her friend Kim, leaving Mabel at home with Craig's parents. She is alone with Mabel on Thursday night and gets drunk, and thinks she did something like tell Craig about the termination, but no... But then, while she's on her way to London, a post goes live on her blog where she details the fact she's going to have an abortion and details that she regrets her daughter, or at least, regrets what her life looks like now. This was one of my first problems with the book because the blurb says that Craig finds out from 'the national press' but that's not true, he finds out from her blog. That made no sense to me and annoyed me. 

All hell breaks loose. Bea goes viral and gets some horrible trolling about why she doesn't deserve her child, etc etc. Craig is still in France and really upset, which isn't a surprise, but I did feel some sympathy for her because he's off in France with his mate and he orders a new bike and decides he will do a triathlon, all of which are things that will take him out of the house more and away from Bea and Mabel. So on that I'm on her side because it's like, you've got a small child mate, you need to be in the house with your wife and child. 

The two of them used to live in London and swore that they would do marriage 'differently'. However, Bea's mum got ill and Bea ended up moving to Shrewsbury to help look after her. Craig didn't want to come but then he said he would move if Bea agreed to have a baby. He's a total dick here for putting that on her when she was already grieving her mum. In all, it seems like she's still grieving for her mum and that's why she's so fed up with the daily grind of family life. She desperately needs some counselling.

However, Bea is not without her faults either. She met Kim online because they're both bloggers, and they're now bezzie mates, and spend hours on the phone together every Friday night. And yet Kim doesn't know that Bea's mum died! Come on! That's ridiculous. You spend hours talking to each other but you've never mentioned that this monumental, earth shattering thing happened?! I don't buy it. 

Plus she has this friend Della, who she's been friends with since school. Della is bi and married to a woman, and expecting twin babies. Bea doesn't want to complain about Mabel to her because she's had gruelling IVF and all of that, which I do get, but surely Bea could make some mum friends and talk to them?? It's stupid. She also does something later in the book to Della which really pissed me off and I'm not surprised Della stopped speaking to her. Bea is really quite selfish and I don't mean for the abortion - which I totally support - but for everything else. Clearly women do take on this kind of labour and I'm not surprised she's fed up, but the execution of the story just didn't work for me. 

The book moves in a weird pace which made it hard to read. It flashes back to Craig and Bea's relationship and marriage in Las Vegas, so sometimes it's not obvious if something is happening now or has happened in the past. Also, my copy was ridden with spelling errors - for instance at one point someone takes something out of a 'draw' not a 'drawer' and there's reference to Brittney Spears with two Ts. That really annoyed me too. In all I'm giving this three out of five because I wanted to like but just didn't. 

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