Dear Thing by Julie Cohen
Also by this author: After the Fall
Published by Transworld on April 11th 2013
Genres: Family & Relationships, Fiction, General, Literary Criticism, Romance
After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily offered to give them the one thing they most wanted. But Romily wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire – and even destroy their marriage.Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make . . .
When I saw the title of this book, I thought “Dear” in the title meant an adjective describing a baby, such as “oh, that dear thing”. I didn’t realize that it was intended as the beginning of a letter, such as “Dear John” (but in this case, “Dear ‘Thing'”). I know that in itself seems kind of odd, but once you learn more about the story, everything makes sense. In all honesty, I think it was the title that kind of through me off, but once I started reading it and realized what the title actually meant, that’s when everything made sense.
So the main character is Romily, who is a single mother to her 7-year old daughter, Mariposa (“Posie”). Posie was a lovable character and she seemed to have an old head on her shoulders. I thought it was a bit odd that she called her mom Romily, though. Anyway, Romily has been best friends with Ben since their university days – even after Ben married Claire. Claire and Ben are like second parents to Posie too.
Ben and Claire have been trying for a baby for a very long time, but every attempt to conceive a child always ends with disappointment and heartbreak. Ben wants a child very much and Claire will never be able to give that to him while Romily can. Romily decides to offer to be the surrogate and carry Ben’s child for Ben and Claire since they’ve done so much for her. She also has a slight ulterior motive, but that would be a spoiler here. Ben and Romily do not think the idea through, they take the idea too lightly, and jump right in when they determine Romily happens to be ovulating.
Romily becomes pregnant on the very first try, and of course, the pregnancy doesn’t leave Romily completely unaffected. Meanwhile, Ben seems to be very insensitive as it pertains to the feelings of both women involved. Romily’s intentions aren’t exactly pure, and her feelings for Ben, feelings that have been bubbling away under the surface for years, become a lot more intense once she’s pregnant with his baby and she begins to doubt if giving up the baby is something she can do.
In case the whole pregnancy thing isn’t enough, Romily’s life is made even harder when her daughter Posie’s father comes back onto the scene after years away.
Overall, I though the characters were very developed and well thought out. Ms. Cohen took a basic plot with obvious results and turned it into a very endearing and interesting story. Dear Thing was a wonderfully written book and I loved the way in which Cohen entangles the lives of Claire, Romily and Ben. This story is about two women and their attempts to cope with the same scenario. Ultimately, the story is also about the love they all share for Thing, the baby they all dearly love.
Biography: Julie Cohen grew up in Maine and studied English at Brown University and Cambridge University. She then moved to England permanently, where she taught before becoming a writer. Her books have won or been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, the HOLT Medallion, and more. She now writes full time and teaches creative writing. She lives with her husband, son and dog in Berkshire, where she is teased daily about her American accent. When she’s not writing, she’s on Twitter as @julie_cohen (and sometimes when she’s meant to be writing, too).
Learn more about Julie and her books on http://www.julie-cohen.com.