Kat is pregnant after only being with Max for 6 months. Running her own beauty salon, dealing with her depressed alcoholic father, fighting battles with Max’s mother and facing ex-girlfriends, Kat isn’t sure if having a baby is the right thing to do. Her life feels like one big mess, whatever decision she makes will change her life for ever.
From the minute I began reading How My LifeBecame Chaos, I knew it would be a good read. Victoria J. Brown tells a very real and relatable story of a transformational time in Kathryn Neasham’s life (AKA Kat). I could appreciate the family issues she tackled, the support of the sisterhood and the budding relationship with Max. Something that stood out to me the most was just how Kat’s life, from the time that she was little, still had such a strong impact on adulthood. I felt her emptiness and uncertainties in coping with the past, present and what is shaping up to be, an interesting future.
I don’t do spoilers, but I enjoyed the transformation. I can literally see how Kat’s life has made her stronger, without her even recognizing it. Moreover, I felt for her “situation” in regards to her parents, empathizing with her all the way. I loved the fact that much was rectified, in one way or another, especially when it came to Marianne because that relationship was beneficial to both of them. I would certainly recommend this series to anyone that appreciates the realities associated with Women’s Literature. The author is very talented and skilled, and I would certainly read more of her work in the future.
The laughter was the strongest memory of that afternoon. We giggled as we ran through the perfectly trimmed hedges of the maze while Mum and Dad followed our screams of excitement. This type of frolicking would usually have had me, a twelve-year-old, sitting on a bench, far too cool to join in such childishness. There was something about knowing I wouldn’t bump into my school friends, and my parents’ enjoyment, that made the whole day different. I was relishing the fact that I was still a child. Libby was only six years old at the time, and pleasurably held my hand as we meandered round the densely grown hedges.
Mum had packed a bundle of sandwiches. We devoured our way through the mixture of ham, cheese and jam, picking at the plain-flavoured crisps, the pink, decorated cakes and the chocolate biscuits. The large red blanket allowed space for us all as we soaked up the glorious weather, appreciating the small breeze that cooled our clammy bodies.
Lampford Hall stood proudly at the top of the park but the Hall itself was not open to visitors. Lord and Lady Lampford had opened their delightful grounds to the public but wanted to keep their home private. A dwarf stone wall with wrought-iron railings separated the Hall from the gardens and three members of staff circled the magnificent place. The sandstone building gleamed elegantly in the sun as people stood outside the guarded area, taking photos which would allow them to savour the moment for ever.
We had listened to Mum tell a story about the fairies who lived in the magical Hall (for Libby’s benefit, not mine, although I loved listening to her tales). Libby had been mesmerised as Mum told her they all have their own responsibilities. Libby, who’d lost her first tooth the month before, concluded that the ‘tooth fairy’ must have the most important job. Mum explained we couldn’t go inside the magical Hall because if we saw the fairies the magic would disappear; just like we couldn’t see Santa. I remember thinking that when I had children I’d want Mum to tell these amazing stories. She’d had them stored, adapting them for different scenarios. When I listened that day I wished I was younger, still believing in the magical spirit of childhood. It was a deep-rooted feeling. One that had nested with me since my discovery that Santa didn’t exist (all because of Hannah Johnson, who hit me and told me I was stupid for believing such a ridiculous story). When Mum explained the truth, it wasn’t only Santa that disappeared; the enchantment of childhood and that special ability to believe in anything also vanished.
Choosing to immerse myself in the childhood atmosphere of Lampford Park, I joined Libby on the swings, slides and roundabout. We fed bread to the ducks, carrots to the deer and lettuce to the rabbits. We devoured soft chocolate ice-cream which trickled with
chocolate sauce, chocolate sprinkles and a chocolate flake – absolute luxury. We ran through the water fountains, tasting the splashes that bounced against our skin. Our clothes were soaked right through. Mum and Dad watched us from the edge, their arms linked together, enjoying our squeals of exhilaration. Over-excitement unleashed our deviant side as we dragged Dad by the arms, pulling him into the water jets. Libby and I laughed hysterically as he chased us through the shower of cold, refreshing water.
On the journey home we all (except Mum) had to take off our clothes. Libby and I were down to our pants. Poor Dad had to strip off too: his shirt and trousers were soaking wet. Mum wrapped me and Libby tightly in blankets as fatigue engulfed us. I remember closing my eyes as they joked about hoping they didn’t have an accident or get pulled by the police.
‘What would they think?’ Mum laughed.
It was decided that fish and chips would end the day nicely. Mum dropped us off at home with strict instructions to get our pyjamas on, ready for a cosy and warm night. It was mine and Libby’s job to rummage through our collection of videos and pick a suitable film for us all. It was always one of the Disney collection which Libby decided upon.
Usually Dad would have done the fish-and-chip run, but because we’d well and truly drenched him, Mum insisted she go. I still wonder to this day: if we hadn’t soaked him, would she still be here?
I wanted to ask the policeman that, as he sat with Dad in the lounge, relaying the news that Mum had been involved in a car accident.
She didn’t make the fish and chip shop.
Instantly, they said.
‘I think I’m pregnant.’
‘You think?’ Suzy smiled. ‘So you might not be.’
‘You’re right, I might not be, but I’m four days late.’
‘That’s nothing. Sometimes I’m a week late.’ Optimism shone from her eyes, her gentleness always present as she relaxed back in her chair.
‘I’m never late and I feel so ill.’
‘You wouldn’t be ill after four days, would you?’
‘Some of my customers say they knew as soon as it happened.’
I nodded, raising my eyes at the absurdity that a woman would know when one of her eggs had been impregnated. With flashes of how and when it could have happened piercing through my mind, I asked, ‘Can you remember that ball I went to with Max?’
‘God, how could I forget?’ Suzy groaned and we both laughed at the memory of me dragging her around Newcastle, York and Leeds, looking for the perfect dress. I was so nervous about meeting Max’s work colleagues for the first time. I wanted them to be impressed, or I didn’t want Max to be embarrassed; I wasn’t sure which was the more important. I knew I had to look my best: a scruffy beauty therapist is never a good advert. We’d shopped for weeks on end, but it was worth it: Max commented, as did most of his colleagues, about how stunning I looked. It didn’t stop the nerves, though.
‘Well, remember I told you I was that nervous, I drank too much and threw up in the toilets before the meal was served?’
‘I still can’t believe Max doesn’t know about that.’ Suzy laughed. Then suddenly, her smile vanished. ‘But that was, what? Seven, eight weeks ago? Did you miss last month’s─’
‘You remember a few weekends back we went to the Lakes?’
‘Of course. It’s when I met Michael,’ she giggled, like a teenager.
‘Anyway, I took two packs of pills back to back so I wouldn’t have my period whilst we were away.’
‘Well, now I’m due on and four days later it’s still not happening.’
‘But, if you’ve taken two packs together this can delay it, can’t it?’
‘I think so, but I don’t think I’d be this late.’ I ran my hand through my dark mane, the shine and texture inherited from Mum, the colour from Dad. ‘Plus, I feel so sick, my boobs hurt, and they’re bigger. I thought it was because I’d taken two packs of pills, but I know it’s not.’
‘You don’t know for sure.’
‘I’m sure enough – and I don’t know what the hell to do about it.’ Tears formed and I swallowed the lump in my throat.
‘Have you talked to Max?’
‘Not yet. There’s no point saying anything if I’m not.’ I sipped my coffee, trying to calm my nerves.
‘Right, come on. Let’s go.’
‘To buy a test.’ Suzy was already out of her seat as I sat stubbornly in mine. Not only was my sofa the most comfortable place to be, I’d had the day from hell.…
50% of the profits go to the Hope for Holly Charity.
Victoria J.Brown is a chick-lit author. While studying for her MA in Creative Writing she won a short story competition judged by Adele Parks. Although, Victoria holds a MA, she sees herself as a storyteller not a literary writer.
She is passionate about people following their dreams. She has written Annual Inspirational Books which provide daily motivational messages. Also being a qualified wedding planner and Managing Director of Calm Weddings, she has written 3 weddings books.
Please note that while How My Life Became Chaos is touring, if readers buy a copy of the book and send proof of purchase to the author, they will be sent an ecopy of Daily Inspirational Messages 2014.
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