Unexpected Lessons In Love, by Bernadine Bishop, hardback by John Murray.

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CECILIA and Helen are two very different women – but they have something very powerful in common; both are being treated for cancer and have undergone colostomy surgery.

Their chance meeting in a doctor’s waiting room brings them together at the right time.

Not only is their friendship a much-needed comfort as they navigate emotional and physical battles, but, as they discover they’ve more in common than they first thought, shocks and surprises ensue for both.

Bernadine Bishop, was a successful psychotherapist before cancer forced her own retirement and a return to her first love, writing.

But “unexpectedness” is at the core of her story. Honesty, adaptability and, ultimately, relationships are what carry the characters through their journeys – as humans approaching old age, in the grip of a deeply unpleasant disease, but still mothers and friends and very much relied upon by the people around them.

Abi Jackson