Good afternoon readers I’m currently snuggled up in bed in my quilted pyjamas, a jersey top and the snuggliest socks I have ever worn. Since moving to my new house I have fallen in love with my room and I love to cosy down here almost as much as in the lounge, which was the room, I always chose to frequent in my old digs. Today’s review is a little bit of an apology review to be honest with you. A month or so back I was part of Eleanor Stewart’s new habits book blog tour, but I got a little confused and read the wrong copy and ended up reviewing the first book, Kicking the Habit. Therefore today is my actual review, which should have been used for the blog tour just a little late. However I know you’ll enjoy it anyway, onto the review.
After a tough childhood growing up in England, at the age of eighteen, Eleanor Stewart said goodbye to the everyday life and entered a French Convent, convinced she was being called to a life of Holy Orders. Eight years later, she left the Order and found herself in Liverpool, thrown into the world of the late 1960s, with its free and easy attitude to relationships. Liberated from a life of duty and obedience, Eleanor lives life to the full – her job as a midwife, friendships and love affairs. She works hard and plays harder – while also coping with her mother’s mental illness. After some foolish mistakes, she settles down and marries – but it isn’t an instant happy ending. As a midwife, delivering babies every day, Eleanor knew that she was destined to become a mother, yet she was devastated to discover that she was unable to have children.
So, first things first this is the second book in the series so if you want to read my review of the first book before reading this one, click here. Now we’re done with that onto this book; New Habits is a wonderful personal reflection of our main characters new life completely contrasting with her life in the convent. Dealing with the stresses of living in a tiny apartment with her mother, who, now divorced is struggling with her own mental health problems it’s a far cry from her life told in the first book. Living through the ups and downs we see Eleanor manage to achieve a sense of stability in the creation of her own family however disaster strikes. Working as a midwife we discover that Eleanor cannot have children; this ironic and heartbreaking twist is wonderfully written as we continue to see Eleanor grow and develop from her life in the convent.
If I’m honest I think I liked this book slightly more than the first because for me the candid style of writing works better here in the late nineteen sixties and early nineteen seventies because it’s so different to her life as a nun in the convent. I think the idea of a culture shock, brought about by how much life has changed since Eleanor joined the convent, is described wonderfully and helps to give Eleanor this vulnerable feel which as a reader only makes you more desperate for her to succeed especially in achieving her dream of getting married and having a family of her own. The reason she left her old life behind. We then watch as Eleanor deals with the troubles with her mother and her difficulties in starting a family.
The book takes almost exactly the same style as the same book understandably and I think that is honestly wonderful. Sometimes I think, when I read a first book and then the second that I want something different but this time I wanted exactly the same all over again and I was very happy to have got it. I loved seeing Eleanor adapting to the outside world, experiencing alcohol, finding out clothes that are now in style and getting her own bank account it’s a brilliant thing to experience a character exploring the world in this way. Seeing this steep learning curve so closely was rather lovely. Saying that even more wonderful was reading the insight into Eleanor working as a midwife; as like the first book there are so many titbits, and little stories that give a frank view of what it was really like and think this once again worked better than in the first book.
Overall this book was a really lyrical and easy read with a natural writing style. It feels like Eleanor is sitting across the table from you sharing her story face to face. It is really easy to forget that this is a real story about a real person and get wholly consumed by the story alone. Eleanor is a truly wonderful woman, strong minded and determined who takes on whatever life throws at her. A brilliant book worth delving into.