‘The Making of Us’ by Lisa Jewell – a book review

In a hospice in Bury St Edmunds, a man called Daniel is slowly fading away.  His friend Maggie sits with him every day; she holds his hand and she listens to the story of his life, to his regrets and to his secrets.  And then he tells her about the children he has never met and never will, conceived with women he never even touched.  Four of them, apparently, two boys, two girls.  His legacy, he calls them.

Lydia, Robyn and Dean don’t know each other.  Yet.  And they are all facing difficult challenges.  Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood and although she is wealthy and successful, her life is lonely and disjointed.  Dean is a young man whose life is going nowhere.  Robyn is training to be a doctor, just like her father – a man she’s never met.  When she falls in love with a man who is like her in every way, she needs to be sure.  It’s time for her to open the envelope her mother gave her on her eighteenth birthday.

And Daniel’s children slowly find their way into each other’s lives…

I was excited to receive a free copy of this new novel by Lisa Jewell to review, having loved Ralph’s Party when I first read it over 10 years ago.

However, The Making of Us, did not grip me from the very start and for the first few chapters, I thought, rather sadly, that this book probably wasn’t for me.   I am so pleased I stuck with it though as once I adjusted to the different character perspectives – there are 7 of them in total – it was a really good read.

The subject of donor siblings finding each other and meeting the man who donated his sperm to father them, made for an interesting discussion at home!  My husband also donated sperm back in his student days, and although the Sibling Donor Registry didn’t exist back then, this book sparked a conversation between us about how many older biological brothers and sisters our son, Zachy, might have out there.

My husband said he prefers not to think about these things…  and I could tell he wanted me to drop it, but before I obliged him, I asked if he would be interested in meeting any offspring he might have, should they decide to get in touch.  He thought probably not.  I was quite surprised at this because if I had donated an egg, which had in turn produced a child, curiousity would definitely win over me.

fantasy donor children?

Anyway, back to the book.  I was pleasantly surprised by the turn this book took in the second half.  I was expecting a boy meets girl/loses girl/wins girl back against all odds format, typical of previous books, but this is a story about so much more than that.  This book explores many different forms of love and relationships with a sweetness and depth that I wasn’t expecting.

Each character survives so many life changing and traumatic events throughout the book, that I really was willing a happy ending for all of them, but I’m not going to tell you if they got one or not, you will just have to buy the book and find out for yourselves…

The Making of Us, by Lisa Jewell is available to buy now.

My first book review… how did I do?


  1. greenwellys
    June 8, 2011 / 9:00 AM

    A really good review. Really interesting that your reading sparked a lively conversation with your partner too.

    I’m going to link to your review from Lisa Jewell’s Official Facebook Page. Thanks again.

    • Grenglish
      June 8, 2011 / 9:46 AM

      Thank you! Am so pleased you thought it was ok. Have linked back to the facebook page from my facebook page too 🙂

  2. June 8, 2011 / 9:56 AM

    Fab review!

    I was reading an article in the Guardian a few weeks ago about a woman who’s made a documentary on her search for her donor father. She found 14 donor siblings along the way – such an incredible story. How funny that there’s a novel about the very same topic!

    If you’re interested, you can find the article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/21/sperm-donor-joellen-marsh-film

    Might just have to read the book now.

    • Grenglish
      June 8, 2011 / 10:00 AM

      WOW, that is amazing! I had no idea this was even possible until I read the book and then googled the Donor Sibling Registry to see if it really existed! It’s really quite fascinating – I’ll definitely watch the documentary too.

  3. June 8, 2011 / 11:08 AM

    Really good review! I’m very very tempted to go and buy this book, sounds like a really interesting story, people often ask me if I’m ever going to ‘donate’ and I always say no, because I’d be too scared of a child growing up and finding me (kinda like in Will and Grace).

    • Grenglish
      June 8, 2011 / 11:11 AM

      Hahaha, well I guess it is possible now! Would be such a shame not to pass those gorgeous genes on to someone though 😉

  4. vic
    June 8, 2011 / 10:13 AM

    a really interesting review on a really interesting and somewhat scary topic, i will def download the book for my kindle now.. i too have read the earlier stuff but now like to think that i am out of the boy meets girl chick lit genre of writing (being well passed those scenarios in my life) but am prepared to delve back in to grown up chick lit…

    • Grenglish
      June 8, 2011 / 10:21 AM

      I agree – I’m definitely passed the chick lit stage but this book was a step away from that. There is still an element of boy meets girl but it doesn’t dominate the whole theme of the book.

  5. June 8, 2011 / 11:44 AM

    Great review…just ordered the book on Amazon for my holiday read 🙂

    • Grenglish
      June 8, 2011 / 11:49 AM

      Will be a fab holiday read! Where are you off to?
      We are off to Crete w/c 20th & 27th August – any chance you might be there then too? xx

      • June 8, 2011 / 2:38 PM

        Hi Sarah…off to Crete on 5th July for 2 weeks, shame we’ll miss you! having a little mini break while we are there on the other side of the island so that should be good fun, leaving Belle with nanny to get spoilt for a few days 🙂

        Love the blog, its great!!

        Hopefully see ou all soon x x

        • Grenglish
          June 8, 2011 / 2:42 PM

          What a great idea! I have just suggested to Pan that we do the same… will be nice to have a couple of days on our own. Look forward to catching up properly soon.
          Thank you for reading my silly little blog!

  6. Sarah Derrig
    June 8, 2011 / 12:48 PM

    Fab review! Have just downloaded the book onto my Kobo to read during my summer holidays as well as another Lisa Jewell book that I have yet to read “The Truth about Melody Browne”. You actually got me onto Lisa Jewell books over 10 years ago and I have loved them so no doubt I will enjoy these two as well. Very interesting topic about sperm donations. I’ve ready an article about a man and woman who fell in love only to find out they had the same donor father. Also a brilliant movie called “The Kids Are Alright” about a lesbian couple who use a sperm donor and as the kids get older they seek out their biological father.

    • Grenglish
      June 8, 2011 / 1:16 PM

      I really want to see that movie too. It seems the topic is very current at the moment. Am sure you will love the book! I wish I had saved it for my summer holidays now too! Although I have not read Melody Browne so maybe I will give that a go.

  7. fluffyluffy
    June 8, 2011 / 5:55 PM

    Great review, I’ll have to go out and buy the book now, sounds like a really good holiday read.

    • Grenglish
      June 9, 2011 / 3:15 PM

      Is brilliant for long car journeys to Portugal!

  8. Angie Mudge
    June 8, 2011 / 7:05 PM

    Brilliant review. You should definitely do more. Its not a book I would normally choose but I might give this one a go! Scary thought being able to track down a donor. Surely this puts most men off?!?

    • Grenglish
      June 9, 2011 / 3:16 PM

      I guess it will put them off now, it’s quite a recent thing I think!

  9. Noo
    June 9, 2011 / 10:51 AM

    Tend to avoid books like this as there is only so much ‘chic lit’ I can take, but maybe I’m being too judgmental. Sounds a bit different to the rest and therefore worth re-considering. I’ll see if its available for the kindle.

  10. Vicky Mudge
    June 10, 2011 / 1:13 PM

    This type of read would not normally make it onto my ‘must read’ list but your review has made me curious enough to buy it. Well done good review, love the true life experience from your own perspective.

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