The Two Week Wait
Sarah Rayner
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Buy *The Two Week Wait* by Sarah Rayneronline

The Two Week Wait
Sarah Rayner
St. Martin's Griffin
432 pages
December 2012
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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About a year after the events of One Moment One Morning, Raynerís characters are still reeling from the terrible tragedy of Karenís husband, Simon, who died of a sudden heart attack on the Brighton/London train. Moving from Karenís issues as she attempts to get on with her life, Rayner focuses on Karenís friend Lou and her journey through the stressful world of IVF and surrogacy.

Raynerís talent for creating appealing motivations and melding them together into present-day issues keeps us turning the pages. When we first meet Lou, her relationship with her new girlfriend, Sophia, is on edge. It doesnít help that Lou has discovered a nasty lump in her groin. But, like all health-conscious and independent women, Lou must not allow all the negativity to take hold. She must finish her councilor's training, though she knows that she is in danger of being thrown right back into the experience of her fatherís illness. She struggles with the memories of his protracted demise and the continual tight-lipped judgments from her mother, who has never really accepted her gay daughter.

As in One Moment One Morning, the setting of The Two Week Wait is important, becoming a full-fledged main character. Brighton with its Victorian terraced houses, ďa hotchpotch of mismatched dirty pastel frontages,Ē appears intimate, a peaceful hamlet in an idyllic setting that serves as a respite for Lou, Karen and Sophia, the one character who acknowledges that the vista must change. As Sofia gets off the train in East Croydon, her conflicted loyalties show that sheís trying her best to support Lou even though Louís notion of becoming a parent spins Sophia into a maelstrom of duplicity and self-doubt.

Echoes of Louís desires reach into the lives of middle-aged couple Cath and Rich, both sensitive to the unresolved angst following Cathís recent bout with cancer. A ski trip will hopefully give Cath some much needed rest as Rich tries to protect her. Emotionally all over the place--despairing one moment and defiant the next--Cath seems driven by a mission. Hell-bent on becoming a mum, from the very first pages Cath's pivotal illness makes her focus on the fact that she and Rich can no longer have a child in the traditional manner.

Lou and Cath serve as Raynerís ciphers to our understanding of the complicated world of donor insemination and fertility clinics, which provide a vital service for many people, both gay and straight. Though the clinic manager might harbor the opinion that ďparenthood is the right of everyone and we have technologies that achieve that dream,Ē our enjoyment of this novel really hinges on how we feel about the need to procreate. The story posits the ever-increasing scenario of two women who will never meet each other but will arguably make more of a difference to one anotherís lives than any other single individual.

Raynerís narration using Lou and Cathís voice chimes with an authenticity befitting two women who have reached a crossroads in their lives. Cath is determined to convey her hopes and dreams, while Lou, who councils kids whose parents are either absent or inadequate, is forced to ponder her own role in the universal dance of life. When Adam walks into her world, she sees a kind, gentle gay guy who supports her wholeheartedly. It comes as no surprise that she eventually picks him to be her sperm donor.

Cath and Rich's strained marriage, Lou and Adam's unfolding relationship, and the struggle to be treated fairly no matter how or who one loves form the crutch of the novel. Cath is buoyed by "an invisible thread" connecting her to her donor as Rayner's thoughtful story plays out against worries of parenthood and what really constitutes a family, and why committed individuals are not that different when it comes to the moral, ethical and financial dilemmas of having and raising a child.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2013

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