The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

Vaseem Khan photoVaseem Khan was born in London in 1973. He worked for ten years in Mumbai, India and on his return in 2006 joined the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London and still works there.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is the first in the Baby Ganesh detective agency series and was published in August 2015. The next in the series, The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown is due out next spring.


As Inspector Chopra is preparing for his last day at Sahar police station he discovers he has inherited a book cover on whitebaby elephant from an eccentric uncle. As he arrives at the police station a crowd is gathered because a young man has died. His mother claims he has been murdered and is very distraught because she believes her son’s death will not be properly investigated because they are poor.

Inspector Chopra asks for a post-mortem to discover the cause of death although his replacement has already decided it was death by drowning whilst drunk. There is little he can do on his last day.

In the days that follow his forced early retirement Chopra is feeling despondent and at a loss at how to spend his time to fill the long days ahead. The baby elephant refuses to eat and the new inspector has refused the post mortem that Chopra requested for the young man.

Ashwin Chopra, a principled and honest man, wishes to do what is right for the elephant and the dead boy so he seeks knowledge on how to care for baby Ganesha and commences his own investigation into the boy’s death.

His search for the truth leads him though some of the roughest parts of the Mumbai slum district and baby Ganesha comes to his assistance when the going gets tough.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is a delightful book; very amusing and entertaining with well-defined characters. Inspector Chopra is very easy to like because he is an honest man yet not pompous with it. He is kind and thoughtful but never too imposing with his code of ethics. His character evolves as the novel progresses. There is also humorous and moving interaction between Chopra and his wife Poppy.

Due to its setting the story allows you to escape to another world: the vibrant city of Mumbai. There are some wonderful descriptions of Mumbai’s underworld as well as the more affluent areas and weaves in the charm of the local people and their lives.

I can see the Baby Ganesh detective agency series a clear favourite for a television series sometime soon.

Chopra book pile

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is published by Mulholland Books – An imprint of Hodder and Stoughton

You can follow Vaseem Khan on Twitter: @VaseemKhanUK

It’s Just an Opinion!

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet”  Mahatma Gandhi

I love this quote. My interpretation is that I will not let anyone hurt or upset me with their opinions and judgements. After all, they are personal views formed from their experiences of life. They are expressing these views from their own understanding and beliefs.


Don’t let others dictate how you feel. Image courtesy of Pixabay

It does hurt when people criticise. It even offends when people we don’t know are rude or judgemental about us. Interestingly, as I grow older, the views of others have less effect on me. Perhaps that’s why older people speak their minds, sometimes to the point of rudeness. They’ve realised that someone’s appraisal of the situation is not always accurate and should sometimes be disregarded.

I was reading an article the other day about the ego. Sorry – that blasted ego keeps popping up; it’s always there, humming in the background. The article explained that finding fault in the actions of others strengthens the ego. If you watch for it, in yourself and others, it’s plain to see.

A conversation I overheard recently, while queueing in the supermarket, went something like this:

‘Did you see what Chrissie was wearing the other day?’

‘Yeah, didn’t do her any favours did it. Wrong colour, wrong style, everything!’

‘Made her hips look huge! I would never wear that style if I had big hips. You can never get away with it – pleated from the waist – with hips that size.’

dress sense

That dress is awful! Image courtesy of Pixabay

‘And the red with her pale complexion made her look ill.’

Trinny and Susannah would have been proud.

If these two women had been talking about me I would have been mortified but as a bystander, earwigging, I could only laugh because their own dress sense was appalling (in my opinion that is!) Mind you I often found that the case with Trinny and Susannah. I would think: What on earth are you wearing? And you’re giving advice!

Why do we worry and get so upset about the opinions of others when they’re clearly not speaking with any authority on the matter?

Another scenario concerns the opinions of the bully. We’ve all been in situations, I’m sure, where a parent, partner, boss or colleague keeps digging away: Are you stupid or what? Did you not think? I can’t believe you just said/did that! Comments accompanied with the rolling of the eyes or a shake of the head; chipping away at your self-confidence, causing you to question whether there is something wrong with you. Perhaps I am stupid after all, you wonder.

It has taken me a lot of years, a lot of people watching and a good degree of introspection to realise that people who criticise rarely do so to be helpful. So, before you allow someone else’s voice to reverberate in your mind, take a clear look at who is speaking to you. You may discover that the person who is constantly telling you that you’re forgetful and getting senile frequently forgets things themselves.


Oh No You’re Not! Image courtesy of Pixabay

A well-meaning friend who says, ‘well I would never let my child have internet in their bedroom,’ leads you to think that you’re the worst parent ever until you remember they feed their own children ready meals and takeaways and allow them to eat lots of sweets and drink cola. Then you realise their parenting skills are no better, so why did you allow their comment to cause you to question your own parenting methods. It is just their opinion.

Back to Ghandi – be careful whose dirty feet you allow to walk through your mind. Be discerning. Think carefully about the comments and opinions of others. Some are worthy if delivered with authority or from someone who genuinely has your interests at heart. Otherwise, don’t take the careless comments some people make too much to heart.


The Present by Spencer Johnson

The Present

The Present is a story about a young boy and his friendship with a wise old man. The old man tells the boy that The Present is a gift which, of all the gifts he will ever receive, ‘is the most valuable of all because it offers the opportunity to be happy and successful. The boy wishes he will someday get The Present. For now he is just happy to play.

The boy is growing up and although he has received many gifts over the years, the joy they bring is short lived. As he reaches his teenage years he starts to feel more dissatisfied with his life. Visiting the old man one day, he remembers The Present and asks his friend why it is so special. How could it make him happier and more successful?

The old man defines success as: progressing toward whatever you think is importantand the boy realises that this idea allows him to decide for himself what he wants to succeed at.

As the story continues and the boy becomes a man, he frequently returns to visit his wise, elderly friend who imparts little snippets of wisdom but the young man does not take time to reflect on what the old man is saying. He wants to know where he can find The Present and does not understand why the old man will not just tell him where to find it. The old man tells him:

‘No one can find The Present for someone else. The Present is a gift to yourself. Only you have the power to discover what it is’

Disappointed in the reply, he leaves.

Sometime later, determined to seek The Present, he reads books, scours the Internet and talks to others. His search is fruitless and he gives up.

Passed up for promotion and in a failing relationship the disillusioned young man returns to the old man for help. The old man suggests he takes a break to spend some time alone, reflecting on his life. This he does and discovers the beauty of everything around him. He notices things, like the carefully crafted fireplace and can almost feel the love laboured on this piece of work; that the creator must have enjoyed building it.

He suddenly realises that The Present is the present moment. The old man had said before that:

‘When you are fully engaged in what you are doing your mind doesn’t wander and you are happy…you are intent only on what is happening at that moment’

The young man could see the value in this but was puzzled on its application when you are in a situation that is unpleasant, not permitting you to enjoy the present moment.

The old man talks to him of ‘tuning out distractions…paying attention to what is important now…and creating your own present’.

The old man imparts a little more wisdom:

Anytime you are unhappy in the present or feeling unsuccessful…It is time to learn from the past or plan for the future.  Look at what happened in the past. Learn something from it. Use what you learn to improve the present’

He tells him that the past cannot be changed but if you learn from the past then the present will be better. Do not repeat the same mistakes. He also tells him that:

No one can predict or control the future (but) the more you plan for what you want…the less anxious you are in the present. Picture what a wonderful future would be like. Create a realistic plan to help it happen. Put your plan into action in the present’

As the young man grows older he finally sees the value of the old man’s teachings and puts them into practise, becoming happier and more successful (remembering this definition is a personal one). He comes to realise that:

‘Success is becoming who you are capable of being…progressing toward worthwhile goals. Each of us defines for ourselves what it means to be successful’

The Present originally published in 1983 as ‘The Precious Present’ is a short, easy to read book with a very simple message, but one which takes quite a lot of personal reflection to fully comprehend. It is wonderful to believe we can decide our own interpretation of success rather than the assumptions made by others where success is often considered in monetary terms, academic achievements or our position in the hierarchy of society.

Sometimes, of course, the present is just too painful to inhabit. The current climate of terror attacks give testimony to this and time is needed before the present becomes, once more, an acceptable place to reside. However, speaking for myself, a lot of present discontent can be eliminated if lessons are learnt from the past (and it’s not always easy to see where things may have gone wrong). The present moment of the future can also be better if a strong vision of what we would like to achieve is considered, and determined action taken to work towards the desired outcome.

If you read The Present I hope its profound message resonates with you too.

Just be yourself

“When I am an old woman…I shall go out in my slippers in the rain”  –  When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph.

I remember this poem from when my daughter was taking GCSE English Literature. It was in an anthology of poems they studied and It struck a chord.  I thought how wonderful it will be when I can do what I want without having to behave in a proper manner.  Now, as the poem says, we must pay our rent, not swear in front of the children and set a good example. How rubbish is that!

I speak for myself when I believe we lose some of our sense of fun between our carefree young adult years and those when our children become independent; weighted down with the responsibilities of trying to be a good parent we forget how to be naughty and I loved this poem for its decadence.


What! only 11am? Oh well never mind.

A few days ago there was an article in the newspaper about the drinking habits of middle-aged women. Some, apparently, are taking their first drink as early as midday. (How shocking! Who would have thought it! What kind of women are they when they have responsibilities and all!).

At first glance I thought it was implying that life is so stressful that many were hitting the bottle soon after breakfast but it transpired it was just a guilty pleasure. They felt it fun to be sipping a glass of champagne at the kitchen table while the children were at school – they would have preferred the South of France or some exotic location but the kitchen table did the job.

I envied them their little indulgence as it’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane. Afraid to look silly. Embarrassed that others will criticise. How does this fit in with my goals of reaching enlightenment I ask myself when we are taught that self-discipline is the way forward? Is self-gratification and lack of restraint at odds with discovering who we really are and our purpose here on earth? I think not. I think pretending to be someone we are not means we’ll never discover our true self.


It’s time to party!

I believe that as long as we are unselfish in our self-indulgence (if that makes sense!) and we enjoy our time here without becoming too attached to material things, then it’s okay to have fun. It’s okay to drink champagne for breakfast and it’s certainly okay to wear clothes that are brightly coloured and don’t match if you wish – just ignore the kids when they laugh.

That said, my daughter is getting married in December and I have been invited, along with her two aunts, to her hen do. I think us more mature ladies will do something deliciously fun and show those youngsters how to have a good time.  Kat, you’re in for a surprise…

It’s time to rebel!

“Some people are so anxious about growing old that they cannot help but leak that anxiety into every situation that calls for them to remember something – a friend’s name, someone’s address, the place where they left their keys” Ageless Body, Timeless Mind –Deepak Chopra.

You’ll be pleased to know that my little experiment with the mobile phone worked a treat. Well, most of the time. It took a few days to train my mind to focus on the phone but as long as I was aware of myself putting it down I always knew where I had left it. Amazing!  I only ‘lost’ the phone when I was stressed or focussing on something else and therefore only aware of the current crisis.

So pleased was I with the results – and relieved that I wasn’t ageing as rapidly as I thought (and that others implied) – that I read around the subject in more depth and came to the conclusion that we age ourselves by relating every lapse, whether it’s tiring while running for the bus (this can be improved with exercise), putting on weight (this can be altered with a healthy diet) or losing various objects (which can be remedied with practised attention/mindfulness), to getting old.



A little exercise goes a long way…

We buy into the fallacy that with every passing year our bodies and minds are disintegrating but there is a lot we can do to stave off this deterioration and it starts with changing our expectations. It’s time to rebel and change our mindset. Certainly we shouldn’t allow others to tell us we are getting old on the basis we have forgotten to collect the dry cleaning!

Whilst researching the ageing process I came across an experiment conducted in 1981 involving two groups of 8 men in their 70’s. They were taken, at different times, to a converted monastery for a period of five days. Everything around them reflected they were in 1959. Both groups were tested before entering the monastery and various markers were recorded: hearing, sight, memory, dexterity etc.

The first group were encouraged to reminisce about the period of their past but that was all, whereas the second group were told to live the period. Talk about the politics of 1959 as though it was current.  After the five days both groups were reassessed. The group that ‘lived’ 1959 showed marked improvement on their dexterity and sight as well as looking more sprightly and energetic compared with the control group. There was nothing specific to memory but a general improvement in all aspects was noted.

This experiment was replicated in 2010 by the BBC involving celebrities and the results were similar. The subjects were rejuvenated, completing tasks with ease that a few days before were deemed impossible.

These were people in their 70’s and 80’s!


There are pockets of communities all over the world (Healthy at 100 by John Robbins) who ignore old age and are able to live active lives.

As a writer I listen and observe others and I constantly hear people in their 50’s and 60’s say they are getting old. Nonsense!! Stop making excuses and put in a little effort. Mindfulness takes effort.  Learning how to use new technology takes effort. Exercise takes effort. Meditation takes effort.  I know because I don’t make the effort! But knowing that something can be done is a start and being able to find my phone over the past two weeks has made me determined to make more effort on all fronts.

Obstacle to Enlightenment

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” – Anne Lamott

I made the decision a few years ago to step onto the path to enlightenment. I knew the journey would be long and arduous but I have to admit I was hoping to have covered a little more ground by now. Of course, it’s hard to know exactly where you are at any given time because there isn’t a map; no little arrow saying ‘you are here’ to enable you to see how far you’ve travelled.


Ever been lost in a maze?

And which direction do you take? The books tell you there are signposts everywhere but they appear to be very well hidden. I should have realised many years ago when I emerged crying after two hours in the Hampton Court Maze (age 35!) that my sense of direction in terms of ‘paths’ wasn’t sound and my husband will confirm that my map reading skills leave a lot to be desired. So what led me to believe I had any chance in finding my way to enlightenment?

If I’m honest, I didn’t really expect to reach such heady heights. I was more hoping that I would be able to get through the day without shouting at somebody or sticking up my middle finger to everyone who beeps me for crawling fifteen miles per hour up a gentle slope (with a 2003 clapped out Citroen C3 I really have no choice). I was hoping that meditating would leave me calm and in control, unflappable in stressful situations. It has worked to a degree – I’m extremely calm when I’m asleep!

What I have discovered though is that everything comes down to ego. Everything is about how we respond to everyday situations. If we are to remain calm and reap all the benefits which a calm disposition brings a new approach to life is needed; a new way of looking at those daily problems that cause anxiety. We have to stop making everything about ‘us’. The person who bumped into you in the supermarket and did not apologise did not aim their rudeness directly at you because they don’t know you – so what is the point of getting upset?


We protect our Ego at all costs

It’s so easy to see the ego reacting in others, how they’ll try to blame someone else for their mistakes or lie to protect their integrity, how offended they come if criticised. We all behave in this way but somehow we’re unable to see it in ourselves because the ego will do anything to justify its actions and behaviour in an effort of self-preservation. The ego is supposed to be the major obstacle to attaining enlightenment and if that’s the case I’d better stock up on snacks and magazines because it’s going to be a very long journey.

The Dyslexic Hearts Club by Hanneke Hendrix


Dyslexic Hearts Club

Three women, all suffering with burns of varying degree, are brought together in a hospital room which has a policeman parked outside the door 24/7.

Anna Van Veen, recovering from a collapsed lung, cuts and burns, is a loner. She is ‘not a people’s person’ and ‘not really one for friends’. Although she married Nelis she much preferred spending time with dead animals (she is a taxidermist) than her husband’s friends and work colleagues. Nelis once told her that she had a dyslexic heart.

Vandersteen, a lesbian in her fifties, has recently separated from her wife who has taken their two children away as she can no longer put up with Vandersteen’s lies.

The third occupant, in her twenties and known as Tubby (she is considerably overweight), is the most severely burnt of the three women and does not speak to the others at the beginning. She refuses to reveal her identity, even to the hospital and, referred to as Ms X, she is something of an enigma.

The three women of the guarded room get to know each other and we learn that Van Veen is destined for a prison cell, Vandersteen is a habitual criminal and Tubby is afraid of being found. Each with their secrets, bonds form between them as they begin to trust each other. Van Veen can see they are all faulty is some respect and declares them members of The Dyslexic Hearts Club.  She feels comfortable in their company.

‘All day long I found myself laughing at any old thing. I was inquisitive. I was cheerful. What the hell was wrong with me?’

They all begin to recover and when Tubby reveals how she got burnt, and how afraid she is of being discovered, they all decide it is time to escape before it’s too late. Once outside the confines of the hospital room they are forced to beg, borrow and steal for survival. As they make their way to an island where Van Veen’s childhood home stands empty, evading capture becomes difficult; news of their escape is all are over the newspapers and TV. Cracks appear in their friendships and Van Veen reverts back to her desire to be alone, realising that,

‘This club of ours was driving me up the wall…All my reasons for hating clubs so much began to rear their ugly heads’.

The story of The Dyslexic Hearts Club is told by Van Veen. There is a nice slow build up as the personalities of the women are revealed. They are all troubled in some way which draws them closer. It is an entertaining story filled with adventure and humour yet Hanneke Hendrix has also shown the difficulties faced by those who do not always follow society’s rules; that the world is not always a nice place for those who are ‘different’ in some way. Although we all play roles in society, those who lack the social skills to integrate easily have to try much harder at playing their roles.

The story also highlights how unkind people can be, forcing those on the receiving end to react with a vengeance brought on purely by the cruelty of others. Van Veen, as a child, was happy to be alone working on her animals but her mother thought she was strange, as did the neighbours children causing her to violently attack one of the children when they were nasty to her.  

Hendrix reveals further insight into human nature when Vandersteen believes the nurse is insulting and rude to Tubby about her weight because it makes the nurse feel better about herself. Such subtle observations, slipped into the narrative, add a deeper dimension to the story.

It is an enjoyable book full of antics and adventure but beneath the light hearted exploits of Van Veen, Vandersteen and Tubby, Hanneke Hendrix has captured some of the flaws of the human condition. It provides food for thought with respect to one’s own behaviour when in the company of others who do not always possess the required social skills to fit comfortably into the expectations of society.

Well worth a read.

The Dyslexic Hearts Club is published by World Editions Ltd, London and I would like to thank Diana Morgan at Ruth Killick Publicity for the review copy.

You can follow Hanneke Hendrix on Twitter: @AMHHendrix

Building a business

As well as my blog about the struggles on the path to enlightenment and how difficult it is working towards self-improvement I have tried to offer new authors a voice by reviewing their books.  Both topics are about striving to do well, whether it’s trying to improve mind, body and soul or working hard to finish a manuscript. I would like to offer a similar voice to a few young people I know to give them a helping hand with their new ventures. 

The first is my lovely daughter Kat talking about her leap into the world of the self-employed and her exciting new venture. I have seen an incredible change in her self confidence because she has been thrown out of her comfort zone. Like any new business she has worked very hard, for little reward at the beginning, but her commitment is now paying off. Over to you Kat…

kat3 Hi, I’m Kat Sampson Hornsey 

My dream for some time has been to work from home with the flexibility to work around commitments and family.  I worked in London as a chartered accountant for 5 years until February 2015 

I enjoyed my job but didn’t like the 9-5 commitment, the 3 hour commute each day into London and spending all summer in the basement of the office not getting to enjoy any of the sunshine! Also I have always wanted my own business and be my own boss, knowing that the harder I work the more I will benefit, rather than my boss!

The company I worked for regularly sent me to various parts of the country on business trips and my working hours were getting longer and longer. With the intention of starting a family in the near future, this was not something I wanted to continue doing. In May last year I left my job with the view to taking on some accountancy work at home while developing my new business venture with Forever Living.

I joined Forever in April and have had an amazing year of self development and a lot of fun along the way! In the past year my self confidence has grown and I have stepped out of my comfort zone and done things that I would never have believed I could do.

I love the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a Forever Living Business Owner and the high incomes that I am working towards. It involves a lot of hard work – as does any new venture if you want to make it work as there is no such thing as getting rich quick with most businesses. It requires commitment and a sensible outlook, plus some form of income while it builds.  We now have a baby on the way, due in September, and I am happy knowing that when he arrives I will never miss a moment of bringing him up and can work my business in the nooks and crannies around him.

I am so excited about what the next year will bring, working towards manager, car plan and all of the free holidays that Forever offer us when we meet our targets. These incentives are in line with many large companies that offer rewards for hard work.

If you are interested in becoming involved with Forever Living I have put some links below so please get in touch.


The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

A L Bird will be talking about The Good Mother at the FInchley Literary Festival on Friday 24th June at 3.15pm  at Church End Library, Hendon Lane, London N3 1TR


The good mother


A young girl gets into a car and is told her mother must not know. She is going to meet a man, who she has met before, who asks lots of questions about her family.

Susan wakes in a strange room. The door is locked. She has no idea how she got there, with her last recollection being one of opening the front door at home. Her greatest concern, however, is for her fifteen year old daughter Cara and she wonders if Cara is at home with her husband Paul.

When Susan meets her captor she begs for news of her daughter but her captor does not respond, leaving Susan desperate to know what has happened to her. When she hears Cara in the next room she is relieved and happy that her daughter is safe and, more importantly, with her.

“I’m overjoyed she’s here. She’s here and she’s safe and she’s with me. I’d much rather she were at home, safer, with Paul, but at least I have this comfort”.

Susan does all she can to keep her daughter safe and devises a system where she can communicate with Cara and works out a plan to free them. Her mothering instinct to protect is all-consuming and at times it seems that Susan is more obsessed with her daughter than a normal mother would be, even given the circumstances. She says that:

“She would be my desert island luxury, as I’ve often told her. I’ll never let her go”.

Meanwhile, Cara’s best friend Alice is interviewed at school by a private investigator, Mr Belvoir, who is working on behalf of Cara’s family. Alice knows where Cara was going but does not want to betray her friend’s secrets so does not divulge any information that will help him.

To avoid spoilers I will not elaborate any further on the plot! 

The Good Mother is skilfully told in first person by Susan and the Captor, with some third person intervention via Alice. The use of italics during Susan’s viewpoint indicates she is possibly a complex character and hints that her past may somehow be connected with her current situation. Although Susan’s emotions are very powerfully expressed the empathy is not only with her. The Captor displays understanding, logic and compassion for Susan, even though he keeps her locked up, and there is the sense he wishes her no harm.

The Good Mother is a tense and exciting psychological thriller with a very unpredictable ending. The clues are all there, drip fed to the reader, challenging you to work out the puzzle. Despite working through many different possible solutions the ending was a surprise. All the clues are satisfactorily resolved by the end with none added to mislead. The plotting is excellent and original with the conclusion unforeseen. In fact, once the story has unravelled and it all becomes clear, there is still more. A superb twist which keeps you reading to the very last page.

Highly recommended.

Amy will be talking about her novel at the Finchley Literary Festival on 24th June 2016

To read more about the author, join A.L. Bird in Conversation wth Greenacre Writersamy bird


The Good Mother is published by Carina UK (HarperCollins) and I thank them for the review copy.




Roxy by Esther Gerritsen




When Roxy opens the door to the police her first thoughts are about her husband Arthur. She wonders if he has died of a heart attack as he ‘has all the risk factors’. She discovers Arthur is indeed dead but that he died in a car accident alongside his young female intern. Both were naked.

Roxy and Arthur were married for ten years and have a three year old daughter, Louise. Roxy met Arthur, a film producer who is thirty years older, when she was seventeen. During the weeks following Arthur’s death Roxy does not grieve like a normal widow and has strange relationships with the people around her. On hearing the news, her parents come to stay and Arthur’s assistant, Jane and the babysitter, Liza are there to help Roxy through this difficult period.

Right from the beginning we get a hint of Roxy’s complex personality when we discover that ‘she doesn’t like having strangers in the house’ and that ‘it’s rare anyone stays an hour.’ Although she’s averse to having strangers in the house she wants the police to stay a little longer. She thinks ‘they could be friends’ and plays out a scenario in her mind where she tells people they first met when they came to tell her that Arthur was dead.

At the beginning, some of Roxy’s statements appear odd and sometimes amusing but as the novel progresses they become uncomfortable. She laughs inappropriately, as a child might, when Jane is telling a friend of Arthur’s death and when the policewoman tells Roxy that her husband and the intern were naked Roxy asks: ‘Was his penis still attached? Or is it inside her? Would that be possible?’ Her social ineptitude causes those around her some concern with Jane finally telling her that ‘Arthur said you were disturbed but I didn’t know it was this bad.’

It becomes clear that over the years Roxy has been married to Arthur she has withdrawn into her own world and that she feels most comfortable when she is some distance from any given situation. Although there is no explicit suggestion of an abusive childhood there is evidence she grew up in a dysfunctional family. Her father, a trucker, had long absences from home and she would eat her dinner most nights in bed with her mother watching Countdown.

When three year old Louise wants to go on holiday, Roxy jumps at the chance and invites Jane and Liza to accompany them. They go to France. While they are away Roxy tries her hardest to please Jane and LIza as she desperately wishes to be liked but at the first sign of offence she considers them to be the enemy. The tension builds as we see Roxy becoming more distressed and less able to cope until it reaches a climax which, even given her unpredictable nature throughout the novel, still shocks.

It is an honest novel about a young woman with mental health issues who, at times, appears almost psychopathic. It portrays her unconventional relationship with reality with credibility. Although Roxy often behaves irresponsibly, especially towards her young daughter,  it is easy to feel compassion and empathy for her as we get further inside her world. Her mental instability makes her vulnerable and it is difficult to feel too much anger towards her bizarre behaviour.

It is a well written book with every sentence carrying meaning and Esther Gerritsen gives insight, through Roxy, into the complexities that accompany mental health issues. An enjoyable read.

Roxy is published by World Editions Ltd and translated by Michele Hutchison

Thank you to Diana Morgan at Ruth Killick Publicity for the review copy.