Title: Imprisoned by Love
Author: C. S. Brahams
Release Date: 7th July 2020
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Page Count: 282
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54362073-imprisoned-by-love
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Imprisoned-Love-C-S-Brahams/dp/1913340821
Summary: Deputy head teacher, Sophie Boswell, is back from Croatia and set to tackle the new academic year at her independent school in London. As the term unfolds, Sophie’s husband Michael’s increasingly erratic behaviour begins to take its toll on her. Everything is in a state of flux. Sophie’s world is no longer safe. How will she cope with Michael’s confusion and violence at home while maintaining authority and dignity at work?
Imprisoned by Love is a compelling story about living with dementia. The author’s debut novel provides an arresting insight into the uncomfortable realities of balancing love and duty. With her many years in the teaching profession, C.S. Brahams is all too aware of the problems teachers face keeping up appearances in the classroom whilst compartmentalising their personal struggles. In the past, the author was deeply affected by a significant trauma which left her emotionally labile; it was this strain of maintaining authority on the surface whilst drowning beneath it that made her want to explore someone’s mental health whilst dealing with a personal crisis at home.
Five Favourite Things about My Main Protagonist
Sophie has a vocation as a teacher. She’s a very good teacher and a caring, professional Deputy Head whose passion for her students’ welfare is clearly rewarded when a Year 11 girl names one of her new-born twins after her. Sophie is not particularly judgemental and is supportive of her young colleagues, some of whom are battling to maintain discipline in the classroom whilst others are finding it hard to adjust to professional life. I like the fact that even though Sophie has been teaching for many years, she has not forgotten how stressful it is to be at the bottom of the professional ladder.
Sophie is fallible and she has flaws. She is normal. Although she is nice-looking and doesn’t suffer from Bridget-Jones anxieties about her body image, she has many other challenges to overcome. As the illustration on the front cover suggests, she is almost drowning under the sheer weight of her responsibilities and difficulties. At times, she misjudges the situation and even commits a petty crime; this is a a cry for help rather than an indication of any criminal tendencies.
Writing a character with faults makes Sophie more appealing to readers. Even if none of us has ever shop-lifted, we may well have been tempted. This is not her normal behaviour but her life is anything but normal; this is why I wanted to show how she was affected by her husband’s decline. In addition to this, by talking to friends whose husbands are suffering from a terminal-illnesses, I realised that very few people asked them how they were. The focus was always on their ailing husbands. Sophie needs to be her own person and not just the wife of someone who has lost his job, is depressed and is deteriorating faster than the onset of Christmas.
Sophie is a good mother. She is selfless. Even though she is miserable and exhausted, Sophie strives to find suitable help or hobbies for her husband, Michael. She does her utmost to shield her eighteen-year old twins from their father’s deterioration. She doesn’t want to burden them with his illness but she also recognises that both Eddie and Olivia would benefit from making the most of spending time with their father before they lose him to his early onset dementia.
She loves her children equally. When her relationship deteriorates with Michael, she chooses to sleep in her daughter’s room when she is away. We can tell that there is a tenderness between them because she finds solace in holding up her daughter’s dressing gown and smelling the scent of Olivia (her daughter). Moreover, when Olivia is ill in hospital with suspected meningitis, Sophie stays in a hotel with her son, Eddie. They share a rare moment together, united in their mutual concern for Olivia and the slow bereavement of Michael.
Sophie is family person. She is close enough to her parents, who live in Brighton, to finally surrender to them and ask them for their much-needed help. At heart, her family is important to her and I like this about her as my family are inextricably linked to my happiness.
She’s vulnerable both at home and at work; this makes her accessible to the reader. Sophie is the victim of a sexual assault at work and towards the middle of the novel, becomes the victim of a manipulative carer whom she nicknames “the interloper” after one of her favourite novels, Jane Eyre. Even though Sophie is successful and well-respected at work, she has always prided herself on being able to compartmentalise her life. To this end, she doesn’t behave like a teacher in her own home. The “interloper” (Kathleen) takes full advantage of Sophie’s vulnerability and bullies her mercilessly.
I believe we root for Sophie all the way through Imprisoned by Love and, by the end, feel as though she’s one of our friends as opposed to just a character in a novel.
Catherine Brahams read English, Russian Studies and Linguistics at Durham University where she spent much of her time acting, producing or directing plays. She qualified as a teacher of English (secondary) a year later and has spent over twenty years in the teaching profession. At the height of her profession, Catherine was the Vice Principal of a Sixth Form College in Kensington and a Head of Sixth Form in central London. She has also been a manager at both English Heritage and Bonhams Auctioneers, both of which gave her wonderful insight into a world outside of teaching. Catherine has been a School Inspector for some years now and is also a Governor at a girls’ school in London. She is married to Lawrence with whom she has a daughter called Alice.