Eleanor is cool, composed and In Control. Well, she used to be before baby Noah came along! Now she’s exhausted, constantly forgetting PE kits and appointments, leaving her older son Toby at school and generally Messing Things Up.
If I’m honest, Eleanor’s life is more like my own than I care to admit- only where I’ve learned to embrace the crazy (what 5-year-old doesn’t love wearing his two-year-old brother’s shorts to swim in because his mum threw the wrong ones in the case?) Eleanor’s every perceived failure throws her deeper into despair. In essence, Noah is Eleanor’s first baby – Toby is Adam’s child and they didn’t meet until he was 18 months old – and she just pictured herself being better at it all. Her career in marketing took planning and organisation, she worked on tough projects and saw them through every bump in the road without her blood pressure rising – all while looking after Toby and running her house. Why is a second child so different?
I’ve met a lot of mums like Eleanor, smart, successful women who manage amazing careers yet find motherhood such a shock to the system they are nearly beaten by it. I think – and this is certainly the case with Eleanor – that they are so used to being in control of their lives that suddenly giving control of when they eat, sleep and pee to a mini tyrant is a real shock to the system.
I was rooting for Eleanor the whole book. I desperately wanted her to admit that she needed help, she does complain but it’s always in a jokey ‘my life is rubbish’ way because she doesn’t want to seem ungrateful for what she has by admitting she’s deeply unhappy. I think the girls have every intention of helping out more but their lives are so full – and Karen has bigger problems right now of course – that they are more than willing to believe the front she puts on. Which is the reoccurring theme in this book of course – people putting up a rose tinted version of their existence for the world to see. It seems that these women are always turning the other cheek – and they are all hiding something.
Facts about Eleanor.
Eleanor was originally Helen but as with Bea her name was altered slightly in the edits. When I was writing this piece I wrote the name Helen twice. I guess I must do this thing with names subconsciously because I have a friend called Helen and her sister is Karen – that wasn’t intentional at all. In my last book my main character’s names were Emma Cartwright and Susan Webster; one of my closest friends is called Emma and her maiden name was Webster. I didn’t even see what I’d done until I saw the blurb (because the names were close together).
In the first draft Eleanor used the website Mumsnet to make friends with another mother. The research for those scenes was great fun – those forums are perfect procrastination tools! I was so sad to see Slummymummy56 go in the edits ☹
Eleanor’s favourite film is also one of my favourites: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. That’s where our similarity in taste ends though – she doesn’t read a great deal and spent six of her teenage years as a vegetarian. You would never catch me giving up books or bacon!
Before I Let You In is out now in eBook format and paperback will be published on 3rd November.
It's her job, as a psychiatrist - and it's always been her role as a friend.
But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.
But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.
And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . .