It’s a great privilege to start off a blog tour and I am delighted to do so by sharing my review of The Choice by Claire Wade today. My enormous thanks to Alainna at Orion for inviting me to participate and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
Published by Orion on 26th December 2019, The Choice is available for purchase through these links.
Imagine a world where…
Everything you ate was monitored by the government.
Every step you took was counted.
Your children were weighed every day at school.
Neighbours reported on neighbours and no one was safe from judgement.
Sugar was illegal, and baking was a crime.
Imagine if that world was here…
What would you do?
Toe the line or fight for your freedom…
My Review of The Choice
A dystopian future may not be far away…
Before I begin my review properly, I must acknowledge the cover to The Choice. With food and healthy eating so important to the plot, and women in charge of the country, the illusion images of inversion/subversion, an apple and a female head could not be more fitting. Superb.
On my goodness! I felt most uncomfortable reading The Choice as I was tense and unnerved from beginning to end by Claire Wade’s writing. I think it says something about the quality of this book that I felt enraged and helpless in equal measure – exactly like Olivia. There’s a genuine Orwellian undercurrent to the prose and narrative that gets under the reader’s skin until they feel complicit in the action. Even worse, I had the horrible sensation as I read, that this is no distant Orwellian future or allegorical farm, but a situation that might be happening very soon in our present lives. I think it’s the Norwich setting that adds so much to the sense of unease. Norfolk is seen as such a gentle, rural county and yet here in The Choice we see the potential for evil, for mass control and for man’s (and, especially, woman’s) inhumanity so that there is even greater impact.
I abhor unfairness, and reading The Choice made me rage, but also made me feel ashamed. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have simply capitulated under Mother Mason’s regime if it meant protecting my family and yet Claire Wade makes it clear what the morally correct decision is so that she entirely got inside my head with her writing.
The plot is cleverly constructed; every element is so utterly plausible and resonates with histories we have already witnessed or futures that could so easily happen. As the story unfolded I struggled with the level of reference to food, not because it wasn’t crucial to the plot, but because the descriptions of taste and aroma are so convincing that I was permanently hungry as I read. I’d love to see The Choice as a television series. I think it would have audiences gripped.
I’m not sure how far it was the intention of Claire Wade to affect her readers so directly in writing The Choice, but she has led me to reevaluate my life, my view of morality and choice, and my attitude to food and my weight. I’m trying hard to be less of a slave to my Fitbit now! There are clear messages about what is valuable in life and how family, friendship and love are the most powerful catalysts for change. That said, there is also a horribly realistic presentation of the concept that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely so that The Choice is a book to disturb, to make you think and to make you realise you’d better beware what you wish for. I found it fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed it.
About Claire Wade
Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition 2018. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn’t do what she wanted; her only escape was through her imagination. She now writes about women who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she’s deeply familiar with.
Her favourite things are books, baking and the WI. She’s the founding president of a modern WI (Women’s Institute) and runs a baking club for other cake lovers.
You’ll find her in her writing room, nicknamed Narnia because it’s also home to a wardrobe and is the place where she escapes to other worlds. She’s happiest if she’s got a slice of chocolate cake, a cup of tea and a good book.
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