Her love for her daughter is everything.
Her love for him is deadly.
Cath had twenty-five perfect days with her newborn daughter before Mia’s deadly illness was diagnosed.
Cath has dreamed of being a Mother her whole life and yet just twenty five days later the perfect life she had planned comes crumbling down when she and her husband receive the devastating diagnosis that Mia has Cystic Fibrosis.
Following Cath’s grieving process as she comes to terms with the fact her daughter has a life limiting condition was heartbreaking. As a Mother, and particularly as a Mother who has lost a child, I found myself feeling every one of Cath’s emotions right through from denial to desperation. And yet as difficult as it was to read I was compelled to keep turning the page.
As her life implodes Cath attends a parental support group where she meets Richard, father to Rachel who also has Cystic Fibrosis. Richard is charming and handsome, and extremely convincing in his belief that a cure for CF is just around the corner. Desperate to believe, Cath soon finds herself hanging onto Richards every word and pretty soon it becomes clear that the couple are in a very dangerous territory and risk losing everything.
I knew very little about Cystic Fibrosis before I started this novel and was surprised to learn that cross infection between Cystic Fibrosis sufferers can be catastrophic. As Cath and Richard’s affair inevitably begins to unfold we realise that the nature of Mia’s illness means that Cath’s betrayal endangers not just her marriage, but the life of her baby.
Whilst it is apparent that Cath is fully aware of the risk she poses to her child by having physical contact with Richard, she appears to be obsessed with him and looks to him as a form of escape from the realities of Mia’s diagnosis. It was at this point in the novel I felt confused about my feelings towards Cath. On the one hand my heart broke for a Mother who desperately wanted to cure her sick child, and on the other I felt that her actions were selfish to choose her love for Richard over the love of her own child.
Mother is a story of love and obsession whilst educating the reader on Cystic Fibrosis, a condition which Begbies own son was diagnosed with at just a few weeks old. Throughout the book I cried tears for Cath, for Mia and, ultimately, for Begbie who writes so beautifully about a subject that to so many of us is unimaginable.
Mother made me question just how far I would go to protect my own child, the power of attraction, and the ripple effect of such a betrayal. And ultimately it compelled me to read to the very last page, set down the book, and climb the stairs to kiss my four healthy children goodnight and remember just how very lucky I am.
** We were sent this copy as part of the Mumsnet Book Club. All words and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated **