Monday, 7 September 2015

Guest Book Review: Amanda Prowse - Three-and-a-half Heartbeats

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Grace and Tom Penderford had a strong marriage, a comfortable home in the Hertfordshire countryside, and a healthy baby girl. They were happy. They were normal.

But soon after Chloe turns three, tragedy strikes. A disease called Sepsis claims the life of their daughter, devastating their little family. The Penderfords had never heard of Sepsis - a cruel, indiscriminate disease that claims a life somewhere in the world every three and a half seconds. Now, with their world crumbling, they must mend each others broken hearts... and try to save their marriage if they can.

To find out more about this tragic disease, please visit All the proceeds from this novel will go straight to the Sepsis Trust. By buying it, you will help in their battle to save lives. Thank you for making a difference.

Amazon link: Kindle

Already this year we have had three books from the lovely Amanda Prowse and now she is back with a novella Three and a Half Heartbeats which highlights the dangers of sepsis and brings to the attention of her readers old and new about a devastating illness which many people may not know even exists. At just over 285 pages and priced at only €1.89 (£1.19) on Kindle, this is fantastic value for such a stunning gut wrenching book. All proceeds from the sale of this story will go to the Sepsis Trust. Amanda Prowse is adept at highlighting issues or problems which need more attention through her skilful writing and once again this book demonstrated to me what a wonderfully talented author she really is.

I flew through this story in an afternoon not because it was an easy read (far from it) but because I was instantly drawn into what was to prove to be an emotionally charged read full of love, loss, trauma, grief and tentative acceptance. One which ultimately brought great awareness to sepsis and certainly opened my eyes. Amanda really gets to the heart of the matter in each of her books through her engaging writing style and this new release is no different. The story of Grace and Tom pulls at your heartstrings until you are left a sobbing mess attempting to keep reading this incredible story through your tears. You have been warned now that you will need tissues in abundance before you start this.

Grace Penderford is happily married to her soul mate Tom and although a little later than most to be a first time mother at the age of 36 she is deliriously happy with her now three year old daughter Chloe. Grace has the career she had always wanted although high pressured is not the word. The phone is never out of her hand and she can rarely completely switch off to just relax and enjoy the time she has with her daughter. Yes the ache Grace had for so long is gone now she has Chloe, but is she missing out on quality time through her long working hours whilst stay at home Dad Tom enjoys and reaps the benefits of these precious early first years? From the beginning it was clear Grace and Tom were destined for each other and had a deep connection and most of the time they were honest and open with each other and having a child only cemented these facts as Chloe is mentioned as being 'the creeping vine that bound them even closer together, covering their ordinariness with something beautiful'. Although just from the first chapter the reader senses Grace is becoming disillusioned with the daily grind and the constant strain to perform to such exacting high standards. Will something give?

The cosy domestic scenes in the beginning of the book are all the more poignant considering the reader is aware of what is in store for the family unit. Knowing what we do I embraced each scene and considered how Grace in the future would look back on how she viewed life in those carefree innocent days. Would she regret all the time she spent at work away from beautiful Chloe? Would jealousy set in as Tom had spent so much time with her little knowing how precious those times would prove to be? Chloe even though she was only three was adorable and stole every scene she was in with her funny mannerisms and outlook on life that only a young child can have. I felt the reader really got to know her personality and charming quirks.

Once tragedy strikes a torrent of feelings and emotions is unleashed and I felt every one of those with Grace and Tom. Amanda's writing is just mind blowingly good and I rarely cry at books but I was in floods of tears. The descriptions of the days following this event were raw, real and heartfelt. Bewilderment at initially not knowing the reason and bereft at such an unexpected turn of events from what should have been a routine everyday thing. Both Tom and Grace physically and mentally alter and fall apart and drift away from each other. They are barely existing and like ships passing in the night. 'There used to be a time when we would have sunk together.' But it's this line that most struck a cord with me really summing up how a lot of people feel about grief and for those who are left behind 'I wish I could fast forward forever'.

More often than not authors can shy away from the cold hard facts but here Amanda Prowse lays bare the realities of loss and confronts a wide range of emotions head on. She uses such vivid, realistic descriptions detailing the breakdown of a family that I felt every bit of their pain but also their anger and confusion. Although I know Grace was suffering I felt she became quite selfish in her actions, I would have loved for her to have been more open with Tom and express what she was feeling. What she did to me seemed too much like the easy option and I was slightly uncomfortable with the later part of the book simply because I wanted the pair to work through their agony and anguish with their supportive family instead Grace ran away from the issue and I was worried she might do something she would later regret. I loved Tom and Grace equally and had my fingers crossed throughout for a happy outcome (well maybe more so acceptance considering the events) I never really knew if it was coming or not as Amanda took me on such a compelling journey I couldn't guess the ending.

I can't forget to mention what a genius idea to include a fact re sepsis at the beginning of each chapter, they proved insightful and only served to heighten even more awareness. The further I read the more the facts shocked and horrified me and to think not many people are have any knowledge of this illness. One thing that did bug me throughout the book was how did the title fit in with the story and it was not until the very last sentence do we find out and to say I was left open mouthed would be an understatement. Three and a Half Heartbeats is a book everyone needs to read, as I said it's not easy but is rather a frank and honest account where Amanda Prowse has definitely achieved the job she set out to do.

Many thanks to Sophie from Midas PR for sending me a copy of this book to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.


  1. Your reviews are great Emma. Put mine to Shame.

  2. Aw thanks Tanya. Not getting as much reading done lately since back at school 😥 but once I get my routine going I'll be back into the swing if reading and reviewing.