Thursday 10 September 2015

Reviewed: Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats by Amanda Prowse

Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats was published in ebook by Head of Zeus on September 10, 2015.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

I have to start by saying all proceeds from Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats will go to the Sepsis Trust, so please buy this novel. Not only is it a stunning piece of fiction, it’s going towards an important cause – and every sale will help that little bit more to prevent the tragic death and consequences Sepsis results in. Visit to find out more about this disease.

Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats is beautiful through and through. Knowing what was to come in this novel, knowing that the family of Grace, Tom and Chloe was going to be torn apart, had me reading the book right from the beginning with a lump in my throat. I’m a huge fan of Amanda Prowse’s books but there was just something about Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats that felt even more genuine, heart-breaking and moving than what I was used to. I think it was even more emotional for me because it wasn’t about the tragic health issues we hear about so often, it was something completely new to me and knowing very little about Sepsis as I did before reading this book, I then found every piece of information about the condition, the disease, to be devastating and horrible. Amanda has beautifully and yet with ease interlinked educating the reader about something they most likely have little understanding of with a stunning, important story. It’s a book everyone should read – for the information, for the message, for the great cause it’s supporting or just because it’s a heart-achingly wonderful novel. I couldn’t think of a better author to write this book than Amanda Prowse.

Grace and Tom are married and it’s so early on that we can tell how suited they are for each other, how in love they were. I connected with them as a couple almost straight away to the level that I actually felt anxious about what was to come and how it could affect them. They have a beautiful, joyous daughter in Chloe who lights up their life and the pages in this novel with her innocence, her funny words and phrases, with the way she wraps both her parents and Grace’s parents around her little finger. Chloe was so sweet and realistically written, as I could just see her there in front of me and recognise the qualities she possesses, and I must say that if you have children, or have children in your family, which I don’t, then this book must be even more poignant and moving – which at times feels impossible because I wanted to cry before anything had even happened. Chloe has regular sore throats and her parents have come to the agreement that she should have her tonsils removed. It would be better for her, long term. Chloe gets through that day fine, the operation, her mum and dad learn, has gone well, but once she’s home, things begin to change. She’s shivery, hasn’t wet her nappy and she’s slurring the little words she has. Grace has a bug and so she thinks that must be it, and the hospital reassures her too. But mere hours later, the worst has happened.

This book destroyed my emotions. Tom and Grace were falling apart and I couldn’t blame them. Their grief was overwhelming and for both of them, in a way it was different. Anyone who has grieved, I think, could really identify with some of their feelings but at the same time, recognise how unbearable and unimaginable the loss of your child would be. I feared for the future for Grace and Tom – I really wasn’t sure how things would work out and that is because, though I expected one thing once I started this novel, Amanda made the story pretty unpredictable and this book could have ended up one of two ways. I liked not knowing exactly how things would play out and I think it helped me connect with this story even more, if that could even be possible, because I knew the ending I wanted and even though I would have appreciated it either way, I was willing and fighting for one particular outcome. I loved both Grace and Tom – I thought they were such strong characters and so likeable. You just have to see the way they spoke with and teased each other from the start, the way they cared for each other. You can see how much love is there and I don’t think at that point you could see things ever going wrong for them. But grief is all-consuming, and can alter everything.

I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’m wary of giving any more detail. As Grace and Tom are grieving, their lives separate. Tom was a stay-at-home dad with Chloe and so he suffers from having to lead that same life at home but this time, without his perfect daughter with him. Grace spent all of her time as a mum busy working, maybe not spending as much time with Chloe as she would like but working is understandably not something she is up to and she is seeking peace and comfort. I really wished Grace and Tom could communicate more, but mostly I just wanted them to be okay. I was completely drawn into their story and I felt sadness throughout a lot of this book but at times made to feel strengthened and though this is a touching story, I can’t say it won’t make you smile at times either. Amanda balances out the emotion and tenderness perfectly so the happy memories, and the love, still shines through and warms your heart.

My favourite aspect to this book was something so simple and that was just the style it was written in. Each chapter starts off with a sign, a symptom or a statistic about Sepsis which was such an incredibly thoughtful and clever way of informing the reader whilst building Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats as a gorgeous novel at the same time. I now feel like I know a lot about Sepsis, so much more than before, yet I’ve also been encouraged me to read more about the horrible disease. I appreciated how the learning aspect of this book wasn’t forced upon the reader, and it is still fiction, but with Sepsis being its poignant, well researched core. Everything about this novel was just spot-on for me. Amanda combines the right mix of everything, creating characters that were accurate, well-defined, creating a story that could be so startlingly real and that threw my emotions everywhere, building a plot that you can’t stop reading, despite how uncomfortably heart-breaking it is. What I always love about Amanda’s books are how honest they are and sometimes you might find yourself wanting things to be different for her characters but that’s because the happy-ending is something so many readers crave whilst Amanda always keeps things real. That being said, the last few chapters and the epilogue to Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats were flawless, to me. I don’t think there was a better way to end the book and I loved seeing where the title came from. Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats is moving, painful and poignant – a novel that sees you come out of the other side feeling more informed, more enriched and with that will to make something out of every day.

Beautiful and important. A must-read novel for so many reasons.


  1. I thought your review would be great and it is. Another to add to the list.


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