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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
Every action has a consequence and nowhere is this more obvious than in Every Mother’s Fear, Joanna Warrington’s riveting work of historical fiction. London, 1959. Nineteen-year-old Sandy Lambert has big dreams of a modeling career and a trip to Canada. With a body to die for, Sandy pampers and shows it off at a weekly dance she attends with her friend. It’s at one of these dances that she meets the charming Jasper, a budding journalist, who’s clearly attracted to her. Sandy isn’t immune to his charms either, but after spending the evening in Jasper’s company, she reluctantly leaves, not expecting to see him again. A chance encounter with Jasper a short time later, in a café after a photo shoot, begins a brief liaison between the two, ultimately culminating in a night of passionate lovemaking in a seedy motel in Brighton. Soon, Jasper leaves London and Sandy behind for a job opportunity in Manchester. Sandy’s depression in the wake of Jasper’s departure eventually turns to actual illness that’s subsequently diagnosed as serious morning sickness due to pregnancy. Shunned by her family, Sandy decides to give up her baby for adoption, going to a maternity home to wait out the inevitable. It’s there that she meets Rona, a nurse midwife. Rona and her husband, Bill, have been trying conceive for years, but to no avail. After Sandy gives birth to a thalidomide baby, Rona decides to take matters into her own hands, uncaring of the grave consequences her actions are about to cause…
Despite the historical aspect of this novel, Every Mother’s Fear is timeless in that it perfectly articulates every pregnant woman’s fear and fervent hope that the child they are carrying be healthy in every possible way. Warrington also does a good job of capturing the innocence of a time when smoking was considering harmless and if there was a malady, surely there was a drug or a pill that could fix it. It was a wild, wild West in the world of drugs, especially those coming from foreign countries, where case studies and proper testing were given a back seat in the face of the potential millions to be earned off these drugs. Every Mother’s Fear combines a solid narrative and dialogue with a story told primarily from two points of view – that of nineteen-year-old Sandy and the nurse midwife, Rona, a loving wife who desperately wants a baby. The author gives us two women with different goals, hopes and ambitions and, while it’s difficult not to judge or become shocked by what transpires, it’s also important to keep in mind who is really to blame here. There is the odd grammar issue here and there, but overall, it does not take away from the enjoyment of the story as a whole. Happily-ever-afters come in all different shapes and sizes and there’s certainly one in Every Mother’s Fear. Whether they’re the ones we would have chosen for both protagonists is up to us to decide.