Review: Claire Davis, Al Stewart – Dear Mona Lisa

dearAuthor: Claire Davis, Al Stewart
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Mm Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★¼ 

Summary: Tom, shy office clerk by day and drawer of foxes by night wakes up one Monday knowing the most extraordinary week of his life is about to begin. In five days time a lifelong ‘secret’ will be made gloriously public—but will it mean losing the person he loves most?

Getting married…

It seems like only yesterday Tom changed nappies and sang nursery rhymes to a laughing baby. He relishes the demands of being a daddy; especially teaching his little girl to draw and paint as she grows up.
But the years tick by and times change. Long-buried secrets must come to the surface which may test even the strongest ties.

Tom and Lawrence…

He writes a list of all the things he has to do before the weekend and sticks it in the middle of his wall. The names and goals hang like threads of a spider’s web, inevitably leading to the centre, and all to the same place.

Dear Mona Lisa…

How to explain?
Each morning he notes the colours of dawn, listens to the birds and waits for the perfect moment. In one hand rests the balance of life and a terrible responsibility, in the other a wedding ring. Difficult days and the past loom, but his friends rally round and one by one the words come to life.
Everyone waits as Tom finds the strength to open up and set free the secrets of his heart in a celebration of family, friendship and love.
A quirky story of modern life, set within the breathtaking landscape of Bradford.

Review: Okay, going to be upfront about this. When I first started the book, I had doubts about it. Told in first person by Tom, who is very anxious and didn’t seem positive about what he was about to do. But you have to read it because Tom is so in love with his Loz and he’s very positive about what’s coming. He’s just trying to face the one thing that scares him the most. Tom has a to-do list on the wall of his nearly empty flat and tell Lou is the main item. He’s been through a lot and losing the love of Lou, his beloved daughter, is more than he would be able to handle.

Tom draws animals, more than just foxes but those, whether sitting on the toilet, wearing glasses or flirting with the new guy at work, are so important. The way that Tom gets up the courage to finally talk to Loz was perfect. Loz is so patient with Tom, so gentle and so in love, it made my heart happy to read it. He knows Tom so well and he gives him so much space to do what he needs to. These two aren’t 22.  They are men with a second chance on happiness and love and who are going for it.

While we are at it, let’s talk Jenny. I adored Jenny, Tom’s best friend. No-nonsense, smelly shoe collection and completely there for Tom. She was awesome. “There aren’t many soul mates you come across in this life, not for normal people, let alone me.” Jenny is there for practicing how to propose, what type of suit to get, supporting him through inviting people and basically being the mouthy best friend he needs.

Kathy, Tom’s ex-wife, is another wonderful character. They weren’t meant to be husband and wife but they definitely were meant to be friends. “She was my best friend at six-years-old, and at forty.” She and Tom made the most of an awful situation and out of it came Lou. Lisa Louise, the love of Tom’s existence, the daughter that made every sacrifice, every hungry night, worth it. Lou is an artist, like her father, and has

I thought it showed great bravery that Tom wanted Lou to keep her vision of her doting grandfather, who was an abusive bigot in reality. He may be gone now but mother isn’t any better. “Don’t you go ruining Lou’s life with all that rubbish, now – the way you did ours.” I wish parents like that didn’t exist but they all too often do. Is it any wonder he’s so fearful of losing his beloved daughter? He’s had nothing but grief about being gay and Lou doesn’t know yet. Tom wants no one to help him, he wants to tell her himself.

It’s a touching story of a man taking that giant scary leap into happiness and trying not to lose anything in the process. Tom is so brave and their little family deserves so much happiness. I loved the ending and thought it was perfect for Tom fox and Loz fox.

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