After finally managing to conceive through IVF, Mark and Jenny agree to donate their unused frozen embryos to the clinic. A chance remark a couple of years later reveals that one of the embryos is now a healthy baby girl. Mark's reaction to this news borders on the obsessive as he tries to track down the family of his new biological child. Jenny manages to snap him out of it before he does any permanent damage to a number of people and relationships. But when tragedy strikes a decade later Mark's obsession returns and the consequences are far-reaching and irreversible.
Clearly, as a 38-year-old bloke with a liking for quirky American and Japanese fiction, Force of Nature is not aimed at me. But as a father of two young kids there is plenty in this book that hits home and it was easy to get wrapped up in the story. It is compelling stuff. More importantly, this is a book that will appeal to that biggest of book buying groups - women of 30+. I have read a fair bit in this area over the years, particularly when I was buying books for a living, and this is every bit as good as anything else in the genre. I would position it as nearer the Jodi Picoult end of the scale than the Maeve Binchy but I see no reason why fans of both authors wouldn't enjoy this.
Force of Nature is Sue Cook's second novel. I had a similar positive response to her debut, On Dangerous Ground. She is best known to UK readers as the presenter of an array of television shows including Crimewatch and Children in Need. You could be forgiven, therefore, for dismissing her as just another celebrity turned novelist but Cook is a fine writer with a keen eye for the mechanics of a relationship, for the little, seemingly insignificant moments that define a marriage or a family. In Force of Nature she has combined that talent with a compelling concept and a gripping plot.
Dare I say that this would make the perfect gift for Mother's Day? I think I just have. My mum will be getting one, which won't come as much of a surprise if she is reading this.