Who Loves You Best by Tess Stimson is an exceptional novel filled with unforgettable characters and an indefinite amount of suspense. The novel revolves around the complex choices that women must make for their relationships and motherhood, in addition to the countless unexpected events which open our eyes to what really matters in life. Clare Elias is a profound entrepreneur who owns seven flower shops around her town. She has everything she needs: a luxurious house in the upper skirts of town, a handsome husband, and enough money to last any family three centuries. She has already mastered the business world, so how hard can motherhood possibly be? Clare soon learns, however, that motherhood is not about being able to control every event and predetermine the outcome of each decision that she makes. Clare gives birth to two twin babies in the middle of inner-city England, beginning a stream of unfortunate events that throw Clare’s life into a hole of chaos and confusion. She has sworn that she will never hand over her children to a nanny the way that her insensitive and inattentive mother did. Before long, however, Clare returns to her work and invests in a beautiful young nanny named Jenna. Clare has no idea that bringing a stranger into her house will change everything as she knows it. Clare is forced to realize that letting another woman raise her children involves flexibility and patience. She is not prepared, however, for the day that her daughter calls Jenna “mom.” Soon after, Clare’s husband becomes distant and secretive, having smuggled 1.8 million dollars from Clare’s business to cover a debt made by excessive gambling at his work. Worst of all, Clare’s baby girl Poppy gets sick. Clare is accused of trying to poison her children and is placed under arrest. Clare grows close with Jenna as they begin to share in both friendship and love for the children. It is only because of this strong bond that Clare is able to survive through her husband running away with her children and also adapt to life as a single mother after the separation with her spouse. By the end of the novel, Clare is finally able to accept the beauty in unpredictability as well as learn the importance of love and putting her family and friends before her career. Most importantly, Clare is able to be satisfied with her imperfections and settle her past by letting go of painful memories as well as forgiving herself for her mistakes. She is able to learn the importance of independence but also understand the human need for partnerships and stable relationships.
1. At the end of the novel, Clare realizes that not being present during the majority of the first few months of the twins’ life has had an impact on her children. The babies both recognize Jenna as their prime caretaker and develop a deep connection with the nanny over their mother. Clare, however, still feels completely obligated to continue her overbearing involvement in the business world. The choice between building relationships or following her passion becomes excruciatingly difficult. If you were forced to chose between what you are passionate about or the relationships in your life, what would you chose and why?
2. Although Jenna never gets emotionally involved with Clare’s husband, Clare continuously wonders if Jenna and Marc are hiding an affair as Marc becomes more and more distant. As Marc becomes secretive, Clare and Jenna also become closer. Clare sometimes wonders if Jenna’s supposed trustworthiness is an attempt to cover the truth. Would you ever allow someone, such as a nanny, to become so intimately involved in your family relationships? Would you be willing to trust that your spouse is remaining faithful despite the incessant temptation present in your household?