Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

Adele Parks published her first novel, Playing Away in 2000.  She is one of the biggest selling women’s fiction writers in the UK. Whatever It Takes is her twelfth novel.

Eloise is a Londoner born and bred. She lives in the quaint haven of Muswell Hill in north London. Together with her husband Mark and their three girls they live a blessed life. The heart and soul of the Muswell Hill ‘mummy set’ Eloise is constantly throwing her doors open as she entertains her friends with decorum and panache.

But Eloise is about to throw her last party in London. She has agreed to uproot the family and move to Mark’s childhood home of Dartmouth. For years she has held Mark’s suggestive remarks about a possible move at bay, but now the family is growing out of their London home and she feels she has to concede. Full of trepidation Eloise packs up her home as she ventures to the rugged landscape of Dartmouth.

Leaving behind her best friend Sara is one of Eloise’s biggest wrenches. Sara has been struggling to conceive a child and in her grief and desperation has been in need of Eloise’s friendship. Despite missing London Eloise is determined to make the move work. She invites mothers from the school gate round for dinner in an attempt to set herself and her family up with a support network. But Sara and her husband Charlie have come to rely on Mark and Eloise and are not keen to move on from their needy friendship. Sara’s obsessive need for a child hangs over everyone like a dark cloud.

In Dartmouth Eloise rekindles her relationship with Mark’s parents, Margaret and Ray. As Margaret falls victim to Alzheimer’s she unwittingly reveals a dark family secret which sends Mark’s world into freefall.

Eloise, now away from her close friends, has to muddle through Margaret’s care and her husband’s morose behaviour. What if love isn’t enough?

Parks has expertly woven a story of familial relationships, the highs, the lows, and the emotional bonds that tie families together.

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