Amanda Prowse is an author I have been meaning to read for a long time and so I jumped at the chance of reading her latest book, The Things I Know. I am, of course, kicking myself for not reading her work before as I absolutely loved it.

It’s the story of Thomasina Waycott, known to everyone as Hitch. Why the name? Well, she was born with several medical problems such as a cleft lip, a foot that makes her walk on tiptoe and a weak heart, but it’s the cleft lip that earned her the nickname as it formed a sort of hitch. In a way, it’s a bit of a mean nickname but it’s all she’s ever known and even her parents use it.

Hitch dreams of another life, one where she is allowed to be free of the day-to-day constraints of her family’s farm. She loves the farm, particularly her beloved chickens (one of the chicken scenes made me cry!) but she longs to have her own set of cake tins, ones she can fill with cakes made with love for a man, and a family of her own.

Until Grayson Potts turns up in her life, it’s just that, a dream, but he makes Hitch feel as though she can achieve anything. The way they feel about each other is just wonderful and somehow Prowse manages to make those feelings mean so much and come across perfectly, rather than them coming across as twee.

I loved Hitch, but I really loved Grayson. I loved that he saw beyond Hitch’s physical issues, that he saw underneath the surface to the person beneath. Grayson’s also one of life’s misfits and he’s the perfect match for Hitch. Their growing mutual affection just melted my heart.

At one point when I was reading I thought to myself how beautifully simplistic it was. This is the scene, when Grayson, a Londoner, experiences the country air and the space, and I thought it was really lovely:

“Weaving along the country lanes, Hitch glanced to her left, taking in the sight of Grayson Potts with his head leaning out of the open window as the wind lifted his hair, eyes closed, shirtsleeves rolled above the elbow, and with an expression that looked something close to bliss. He reminded her of Buddy [her dog] when he was allowed to travel up front. There was something about this man – and curiously, she suspected that the magical thing was how he made her feel about herself.”

I was captivated by this wonderful book. I adored the way Grayson stood up for Hitch, much more than he would for himself, and also the way that Hitch blooms and changes over the course of the story. They both have their family demons to deal with and what could have made them stronger as a pair sometimes threatened to pull them apart. However, I was very happy with the ending and I shall say no more!

So, what do I know after reading The Things I Know? I know that although this was my first Amanda Prowse book, I seriously hope it won’t be my last. I know it’s a beautiful story of love, family, overcoming doubts and problems and finding ways to be happy. And I know that I thought it was fantastic.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 5/5

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse
Lake Union Publishing 9781477825211 pbk Jun 2019