disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
I’m a big fan of Caroline Bond so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of her fifth novel, Thea and Denise, which was published through Corvus last month. Can two comparative strangers become best friends and survive a road trip together?
Thea and Denise is such a lovely read about two women of a certain age who I found totally relatable. Although they are very different, they just click, and we follow them as they each make a profound impact on the other as they take a road trip together.
Thea appears to the outside world to be one of those women who have life sorted. She’s exuberant, has a well-paid job and seems to live life to the full. But in reality, she’s scarred by her marriage breakdown and the fact that her ex-husband has a new partner and child. To make matters worse, it looks like her own 15-year-old daughter Ella prefers this new family and wants to move in with them as well.
Denise is rather downtrodden and simply not appreciated by her family. She also works with her husband in the family business, again, without any thanks or consideration and is left to deal with her father-in-law and his increasingly more demanding needs in his care home. She’s also struggling with peri-menopause and has lost her own identity over the years.
After another fraught visit with her father-in-law, Denise spots another resident, a lady, dancing with her daughter. A tender moment that stayed with Denise. Little did she know then that the daughter was actually Thea or that Thea’s ex and his new family had just moved in across the road from Denise. The lives of the two women will collide again at a business function. Denise has rushed to the toilets suffering from a ‘flood’ that only those of us of a certain age will fully understand. Thea just happens to be in the right place at the right time to come to her rescue with neither woman realising just how important the other would become in their lives.
When Thea is parked up outside her ex’s new house waiting to pick up her daughter, Denise recognises her and asks her in for a drink while she’s waiting for her daughter to return. And so a friendship is born, Thea and Denise just seem to understand each other and make each other question themselves and the lives that they are leading. It’s lovely to watch this relationship grow as the story unfolds. Thea impulsively invites Denise to join her on a weekend trip away from it all. Denise amazes herself when she agrees, with no planning and giving her family no notice of her intentions.
Thea has a to-do list and they head from one place to another, they both experiences a track day at Silverstone with Denise discovering a whole new side to herself as she becomes a speed demon. When they both spend time at the Rage Rooms it becomes clear that Thea doesn’t find the experience as therapeutic as she’d hoped and Denise has to take control. She realises that they need a safe place to just be themselves away from the demands of their lives, and she headed Thea’s car in the direction of her own mother’s house. Somewhere for them to breathe, take stock and decide where they want their lives to head.
It really is a beautiful novel, with a solid friendship that emerges from the chaos of life. An emotional read at times, but funny and heartwarming and just a delight. Perfect to pack in your suitcase and enjoy this summer!