“They were not identical, but they were alike. They were like her.”
In The Making Of Us, Jewell weaves together strangers united by common genes; children of the same sperm donor. Lydia has finally escaped from a cold and hated life on a Welsh estate. Dean is heartbroken when his girlfriend doesn’t survive the birth of their child. Robyn is set for a career as a doctor. Slowly they discover the truth about their parentage, but will it be soon enough for them to meet their father, who lies dying in a hospice?
Jewell does well to make three such disparate characters warm and likeable. Lydia is cold and has rejected the world, but we want her to find a man and learn to accept her best friend’s marriage and child. Dean is weak and broken by grief, but we know he can do better. Robyn seems to lead a charmed life. In a sense, this novel is a character study in pieces, united by the plot of the children finding each other and their father; it is the everyday stories of the children which are riveting, not their search for paternity.
I was underwhelmed by the Daniel storyline; Maggie and Daniel both seemed quite dull and unlike other “dying books” (The Love Verb, Before I Die), I did not get much of a sense of the disease, of the grief of onlookers, of the misery of those last few days/months.
I don’t seem to have praised this novel very highly – I did stay up quite late finishing it, which is always worth an extra point out of ten; it’s not a deep or meaningful novel, but perfectly entertaining.