Lump is a wonderful book for women, written by a man, Nathan Whitlock. The title refers to the dreaded “C” word but this fictional story is not about the ravages of chemotherapy and other treatments, but concerns the ravages of family life surrounding a woman with the diagnosis.
The bonus is the author is from Hamilton, Ontario and the story is set in Toronto. New Yorkers are familiar with reading about the neighbourhoods in their city but it is less common for books to describe streets and locations specific to Toronto. It felt familiar and relatable. I am always happy to support Canadian writers.
Catherine, shortened to Cat in the book, is in her late thirties. She’s married with two young children and works from home designing websites. Cat’s husband, Donovan, has been fired from his job working for a property developer, for nefarious reasons he’s reluctant to share. Donovan’s family has money and they are able to help the family which is fortunate because Donovan is basically a loser and an asshole.
Shortly after Donovan loses his job, Cat discovers she is pregnant, which means she is facing an unplanned and unwanted third pregnancy. What should she do? As if those two issues were not enough of a challenge, Cat learns the lump in her breast is cancer. It’s the trifecta of female disasters: marriage problems, unwanted pregnancy, and cancer. Understandably, she goes off the rails.
One of Cat’s clients is a seventy-something widowed yoga instructor called Meredith, a free-spirited socialist who paradoxically lives in a large home compliments of her late, rich husband. Cat finds comfort and escape in Meredith’s backyard studio/retreat and soon falls under the care of Meredith and her new-age therapies. She leaves her husband and children while her sister Claudia helps take care of Cat’s children while juggling her own family’s needs.
The author delivers a gripping story with elements of dark humour and surprisingly bang-on perceptions of the mundanities of daily life for a young, working mother, and—I hesitate to add—for a man. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. When I first began reading it I questioned whether it was my kind of story, but I became hooked. Like Ravel’s Bolero, it starts slowly and builds momentum.
While the problems of a thirty-something working mother may not sound like something baby boomer readers could relate to anymore, a good story is a good story. I highly recommend Nathan Whitlock’s Lump and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
If you are unable to obtain Lump by Nathan Whitlock at your local bookstore or library, click here to order it delivered directly to your door from Amazon. (Disclosure: If you order from this link I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.)