The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

Crikey! Where is the summer going? I’m drowning in writing my dissertation (which is currently at the ‘I hate this’ stage) and my reviews are backing up! To add to the pressure of study (and with the 6 weeks holiday looming!) we’ve also decided to sell our house and take on a renovation project. Historically, I really seem to “enjoy” creating an optimum stress level environment for myself!

With no further ado, because otherwise I’ll talk all day and bore you to tears, I’m delighted to be reviewing The Swap by Fiona Mitchell.

Firstly, thank you so much to the lovely Laura Pearson for sending on her proof copy of The Swap. It’s a book I have been really looking forward to reading, and so it was packed up and taken with me for a week in Majorca!

Quite frankly, I’m glad I took more than one book with me (I actually took three, plus a heap of new ebooks!) as I finished this in a little over twenty-four hours. Once I started I had to pass all parenting duties for the day over to my husband, because I could not put it down.

As a mum, I read this with a huge amount of conflict. I found myself wondering what on earth would I do in that situation? How would I feel? It is impossible to imagine and should only be found in a nightmare. To go through the pain and agony of IVF and childbirth to be presented finally with your baby – only to find out a few years down the line that whilst you grew and birthed that baby, genetically, they belong to someone else. Even after reading, I really don’t know how I would cope if confronted with that situation.

Via this heartbreaking situation, the novel explores motherhood, and what it really means. The two mothers, Tess and Annie are polar opposites. As warm and lovely as Annie is; Tess is cold and detached. But this novel encourages deeper thought; do not judge on first impressions, you do not know what another woman has gone through, how her experiences have shaped who she has become and the choices she has made. I think there is a lesson in this for all women. I, for one, have never been more judged than I have since having my children, and 99% of the time, it is other women who do the judging and the shaming.

Tess’ journey of self discovery was a highlight for me. She is a wonderful, complex character and parts of her experiences as a mother really resonated with me. Some of her chapters I found hard to read, but I think that there was some real, hard truth within them, and so whilst I initially did not like her, by the end I was her biggest champion. For me, this is her novel.

Speaking of the end, I had many a debate with myself over how I wanted it to end and the novel also was a conversation point with myself and my friend who was holiday-ing with us. Both of us Mums, we felt that same unimaginable conflict. I never knew from one page to the next how it would conclude, but it was a perfect ending, suiting the characters and their journeys entirely – I was thankful of the big sunglasses to hide the tears!

Beautifully written, The Swap is a story about mothers, their children and what it is that really makes a mother.


Tess has long since wondered if Freddie, her difficult youngest son, isn’t hers. Ginger, pale and freckly, he looks nothing like the rest of the family, and even her own children notice the cold way she treats their naughty sibling.

But Tess never expected that she might actually be right. Until a twist of fate reveals the terrible truth: during her IVF treatment, Tess’s embryo was mistakenly swapped with a stranger’s. For the past two years Tess and Annie, the other woman, have been unknowingly raising each other’s children.

When Tess meets Willow, the daughter she so desperately craved, she becomes determined to reclaim the child as her own – demanding she and Annie swap their children back, regardless of the emotional cost. But Annie refuses to contemplate letting go of the beloved little girl she brought into the world.

As the two wrangle, an unanswerable question is posed. Whose child is whose?

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