#BookReview ~ If Only I’d Listened by @ClaireBoley #BookBoost


How ready are you for that?

How would you deal with becoming a parent before you’ve left school?

One thing’s for sure, you can’t unmake babies. A fact that’s borne in on Peter Knight and Samantha Smithson, sixth formers at the South East Comprehensive in Deptford, living at a time when many parents are still of the old school and pregnancy outside marriage carries a stigma.
Having to face their parents, their school friends, teachers and gossip is only the beginning. Pete’s plans for university are scotched as he must seek work and accommodation suitable for a young family. And all the time he still wants to have fun, with ‘friends’ quite happy to tempt him to do it.

As for Samantha, abortion is no easy option. Yet as her health and her faith in Peter goes up and down, she may have to think the unthinkable.

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Olympia Publishers (27 July 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848977751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848977754

Purchase Amazon UK

About the Author 

I have been writing articles on different subjects including hand spinning and natural dyeing, pottery preserving fruit and hanging baskets for a number of years in national magazines. If Only I’d Listened is my debut novel but second book. The first was a craft book that I was commissioned to write – Hand Spinning and Natural Dyeing this was back in 2011. My novel is based in London in 1965 when Samantha a 16 year old school girl gets pregnant by her 6th form boy friend Peter Knight. Sam spends most of the nine months in and out of hospital while Pete spends his time studying for his A levels to hopefully go to university. Along the way his mates encourage him to go out and about to pubs and clubs in the West end.
I was born in Exeter Devon. Aged six I moved with my parents to Winslow in Buckinghamshire where I went to school in Aylesbury. In between lessons I used to tell stories to my school friends which they seemed to enjoy.After leaving school the story telling went on the back burner as I left home to train as a nurse. I didn’t start writing seriously until I retired. It was when I read an article on bread making by a friend of mine in a national magazine in W.H Smith, I thought I can do that and I did.

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My Review

If Only I’d Listened is like having a chat with family and reminiscing about old times. Set in the 60’s it’s very of it’s time and highlights exactly how much the world has changed. The stigma attached to youngsters being in a physical relationship and horror of horrors a teenage pregnancy.

Bright and brainy Pete may have been academically astute but when it comes to teenage boys hormones he was pretty dense. After a quickie in the girls’ school toilets his girlfriend Sam gets pregnant. This story follows the ups and downs of growing up, relationships with parents, studying for A-Levels, finding a job all dominated by the looming baby. 

Pete lives in a nice house in a good area, Sam is in a poorer situation and her parents like their alcohol, both sets of parents are extremely disappointed in their kids and that puts even more strain on them. Influenced by his friends, Pete’s personality alters. The loving boy who was destined for university becomes a moody, mouthy lout.

I enjoyed the day to day life descriptions, it was like being transported to my grandma’s house, how they managed their money, the clothing, decor, food etc. Very similar to being a fly on the wall and experiencing a year in the life of these families.

The author obviously knows the location well, the details of the bus routes, roads and park … bizarrely, by sheer coincidence I recognised the ‘hospital’ because I actually worked there at one time!! So because of that I could visualise it all perfectly and it really took me back.

Anyone who enjoys a family saga set in this era will like If Only I’d Listened, it’s an easy, gentle read. I think out of all the characters I liked Pete’s mum and dad the most, they tried their best under the circumstances. Sam is just a naive girl and Pete probably a typical boy of the time. At the beginning I quite liked him but as events unfolded his attitude annoyed me. His much used phrase is ‘let me think’ .. maybe if he had thought prior to their actions they wouldn’t have been in the predicament they found themselves in.

Nevertheless it was an education in itself, after investing so much time in the story and the characters it ended a little too abruptly for me … I’m hoping there will be a book two.

I read and reviewed this book honestly and voluntarily.


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