Netta puts up with a lot in my opinion, and I felt that she was totally taken advantage of by her ex Husband and grown up children – especially her children, expecting her to pay for everything, yet not wanting to spend time in her company. Netta comes across as a totally likeable character – it’s just the rest of her family that are the problem, especially her ex, Colin, who rings her up to complain about the fact that she’s been made redundant – seemingly more worried about his handouts, than Netta’s welfare!
Netta seems to have changed a lot since her carefree university days, which are described vividly, where all she was interested in was having fun. It felt as though Colin had gradually eroded her confidence over the years, and poisoned the children against her.
Being made redundant and getting involved with volunteering at the food bank were Netta’s epiphany. I loved the way this new Netta was portrayed – it was as though she had been reborn. The reader could see how Colin and her children were taking advantage of Netta and it was unpleasant to read, but oh such wonderful moments as the author described Netta’s realisation that she was being taken advantage of. A wonderful example of Netta’s new assertiveness came when she refused to pay £2000 for a school trip for her Daughter. Colin was completely vile over this incident and of course it rubbed off on their Daughter Liza. I was so thrilled for Netta that she held firm on her position over the money. Colin’s portrayal was of a money grabbing man, beyond vile. I was so shocked when it was revealed that he had actually been selling his paintings quite successfully for years, whilst pleading poverty and claiming excessive maintenance from Netta. Netta really was put into a terrible situation – guilt tripped into paying excessive maintenance for the whole family, whilst in reality even paying for Colin’s girlfriend.
I loved the way that Netta and the food bank kind of grew on each other, the more Netta realised what a worthwhile cause it was and opted for selling her flat and buying a cheaper house, so that she could carry on her charity work for longer. The other pleasing thing about Netta and the food bank was the friendships and relationships that she forged there. Her friends started to become more of a family to her than her actual family, and once she had moved house, a gratifying relationship started to develop between Netta and Frank next door.
I felt that Netta had forgotten how to be herself and to care for herself over the years, with the neglect of her family. Being made redundant and finding new friends, helped Netta to be herself once more. She gave up trying too hard with her children and just let them see her and the things she did, for what they were. It was as though when she started to just get on with her own life, her children started to change. It was a wonderfully emotional time in the book when Netta’s children started to see their Father for the snake that he was, and came to realise what a wonderful person their Mother was. It was as though Netta had been trying too hard to get her children to like her previously, yet as soon as she stopped trying, and they could see how happy Netta was with her new friends, the children came around.
Netta and all her food bank friends were such a remarkable, likeable bunch of characters and I wanted nothing but good things for them. I found Netta’s new relationships and life so incredibly gratifying and I mourned the fact that she had suffered such an unhappy life for so many years, mainly due to the actions of her vile Husband and the ignorance of her children. I was gratified when Netta’s children ‘saw the light’ and saw Colin for the man he really was and were drawn back to their Mother.
In all, a thoroughly enjoyable book that I did not want to end. I felt there were lessons to be learned in the book around being charitable and unselfish and I was thrilled that the main characters seemed to take these lessons on board. To read this great book for yourself, just use this link: