Tuesday 7 January 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Choice - Claire Wade

Sugar is illegal. Baking is a crime. One woman’s desperate attempt to bring freedom back to her children’s lives.

Olivia Pritchard lives in constant fear since Mother Mason came into power. Everything from healthy eating to exercise is controlled by the government, all in the name of health and happiness. Olivia hates being dictated to, but to protect her family she must follow the rules or face a stay in the Shame Box - a transparent box in a public place for everyone to judge.

After Olivia witnesses an innocent woman being violently arrested, she is no longer able to ignore the injustice. The underground rebellion 'Cut The Apron Strings' is gaining momentum and for the first time in years Olivia has a choice: keep her head down or join the fray...

What did I think?

Oh my word, this book is brilliant; it's completely unforgettable.  I would have read it in one sitting if my eyes had obeyed the order to stay open.  Perhaps I should have threatened them with Mother Mason.

The Choice may sound like a bit of a horror novel at first glance: a future without sugar.  That's right, NO CHOCOLATE!  Claire Wade has very cleverly chosen to set her novel in a future that is very easy to imagine.  With reports of people getting fatter and lazier in real life, it's absolute genius to have characters wearing health monitors that, among other things, determine whether they have done enough steps to watch TV.  I actually think I might apply this rule to my own sedentary lifestyle.  Claire Wade may very well have changed my life!

The novel is set in Norwich and London after the people voted for a new government, led by Mother Mason.  Mother knows best, after all, but this mother rules with an iron fist and nobody voted for a regime ruled by fear and shame.  With cameras everywhere, Big Brother really is watching here and makes no secret of the fact.  Anybody caught breaking the rules, and when I say anybody I actually mean any woman, will get banished to the Shame Box or even worse will be sent into the Societal Evolution Programme, never to be seen again.  A group of people want to 'Cut The Apron Strings' and bring down Mother Mason and the main character, former baker Olivia, must join the rebellion if she wants the freedom to be able to bake again.

You could be forgiven for not recognising this as a debut novel as Claire Wade's exceptional writing comes across as very accomplished.  There's a paragraph where she describes chocolate in the most sublime way and I think I must have had a smell hallucination as I felt like I could smell it as well as taste it.  Honestly, I was almost drooling.  While I'm talking about the standard of writing, I was delighted to see one of my favourite words 'claggy' being used to describe a cheesecake.  With so much mouthwatering food being described, it's no wonder I gained a few pounds whilst reading it...over Christmas...eating lots of chocolate and cheesecake!

There's so much more I could say about The Choice but it's a book that everyone really needs to read to experience it for themselves.  It's a very thought-provoking and empowering book that reminds us to stand up for what we believe in and to have the courage and conviction to not follow the crowd.  Although I haven't yet read The Handmaid's Tale (shock!), I think The Choice will inevitably be compared to Margaret Atwood's masterpiece and will not be found wanting.

The Choice is an exceptional debut with an imaginative and powerful plot that had me hooked from start to finish.  It's both unputdownable and unforgettable; a simply magnificent book!  I think a lot of people will be talking about this book for a long time to come.  Fantastic feminist fiction that is very very highly recommended.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition 2018. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn't do what she wanted; her only escape through her imagination. She now writes about women who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she's deeply familiar with.

Her favourite things are books, baking and the WI. She's the founding president of a modern WI (Women's Institute) and runs a baking club for other cake lovers. You'll find her in her writing room, nicknamed Narnia because it's also home to a wardrobe and is the place where she escapes to other worlds. She's happiest if she's got a slice of chocolate cake, a cup of tea and a good book. Claire is based in Norwich and has been interviewed for BBC 1 Inside Out, as well as writing for media outlets such as the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror, Disability Now and her regular column in the Eastern Daily Press.

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