‘Hampstead Fever’ by Carol Cooper

 

Hampstead Fever

A hot and humid summer in the city and as the temperatures increase, the emotions and relationships of six thirty something North Londoners are sorely tested.

Having met at a speed dating event a couple of years ago, Chef Dan has the woman of his dreams and a beautiful baby boy to boot. Everything should be perfect and yet since the birth of their son, Laure has all but rejected him, her attentions focused upon little Jack, so very afraid of all manner of illnesses and disasters that could befall him.

Sanjay and Harriet are at a crossroads in their relationship. Having met when Sanjay was ill, they have never made the final step of living together and now it seems that Sanjay’s feelings may have cooled far more than Harriet could have known. She wants him. He wants… more.

Doctor Geoff has been having trouble with ‘Mr Wibbly Wobbly’ since returning from Afghanistan and has yet to find that perfect woman to help him rebuild his stalled love life. With his son in Australia, his home life seems bleak until he meets actress Daisy who is assisting in Doctor training days by role playing a whole host of unpalatable illnesses and situations. Mysterious and vague, she flits in and out of Geoff’s life without any sign of commitment.

And Karen. Single mom of four testing children, she grabs clandestine moments with ‘Soccer Dad’ when the kids have left practice. With feminist opinions, she wants nothing more than a quite tryst, even though she knows that she deserves much better.

As their love lives are tested, and eyes wander, can any of them find the security and longevity in their personal lives that they are all looking for?

‘Hampstead Fever’ is an interesting look into the personal lives of six very different individuals who are all essentially looking for the same thing. Told from the point of view of the main protagonists, the action moves from one to the other quite fleetingly and at first it takes a bit of concentration to keep up. If you have read Carol Cooper’s first novel, ‘One Night at the Jacaranda’ then you will be familiar with the main characters in this book already. Not having read this, I don’t feel I was at a disadvantage, the way in which they are linked and the character’s back story explored enough throughout for me to be able to pick this up very easily.

The characters are all well rounded. I particularly liked Dan, who was trying really hard to turn his life around after being in prison, and seemed to be a very relatable character, and Geoff, whose talk of ‘Mr Wibbly Wobbly’ made me chuckle. Geoff seemed the perfect Doctor, swooping in and saving the day several times of note throughout, this more human side of him, a minor imperceptible defect, making him more accessible. The way in which he categorised his patients by their complaint or overwhelming characteristic as opposed to their name added a touch of humour to these interactions too.

As for Karen, the abandoned wife, her feminist protestations, including her refusal to be forced into doing the soccer mom duty of washing the kit, also worked well. Quite singular in her point of view, she was a contrast to the neurotic Laure and the overly emotionally attached Harriet.

I could easily see throughout this novel, Cooper’s experience as a Doctor. The observation of the kind of claustrophobic fears of Laure and how this impacted her relationship with both Jack and Dan was excellent. And Harriet, as the struggling journalist who became far too attached to any sign of love from another person, she was endearing, if a little wet and annoying at times.

The characters were all very well written, the story believable as they bounced from one bad decision to another, trying desperately to find their feet at a critical point in their relationships. Of all the characters, Sanjay is the one I could bond with least. He had a new lease of life, a sense that he needed to be appreciative of the second chance he had been given, maybe a misguided ‘survivors guilt’ when compared to that of his friend Ben. To me, he was just a bit of a prat.

As a story of people navigating tricky relationships, ‘Hampstead Fever’ really hit the spot. The ending may be a bit ambiguous for some, but there is hope there for certain characters and an uncertain future for others. That’s only natural. Not every relationship ends in the perfect HEA. And in the closing paragraphs? Well it’s fair to say that Daisy becomes even more of an enigma than before. Has she been playing them all for fools or is this the start of a new journey for her?

A thoroughly enjoyable 4 stars.

4

My thanks to Carol Cooper for the copy of ‘Hampstead Fever’ in exchange for my honest review. You can follow Carol on Twitter @DrCarolCooper.and on her blog pillsandpillowtalk.com

‘Hampstead Fever’ is available to purchase here:

Amazon UK

Kobo