My thanks to Joe Thomas at Headline for inviting me to take part in the blog and Instagram tour for Becoming Ted by Matt Cain and for my review copy via NetGalley.
Becoming Ted was published on 19th January 2023 and is available in hardback and as an ebook and audiobook.
Do head over to Instagram to check out the reviews and gorgeous pics posted by the other bloggers taking part.
About the Book
Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.
He doesn’t even like ice cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.
But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …
Format: eARC (464 pages) Publisher: Headline Review
Publication date: 19th January 2023 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find Becoming Ted on Goodreads
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It’s not long before the reader learns the nature of Ted’s dream but although the destination may be clear, it’s the journey that Ted goes on to reach it that is at the heart of the book. It’s a journey the author makes us want to accompany Ted on as he battles with the low self-esteem resulting from being dumped, quite out of the blue, by Giles, his partner of twenty years, and the responsibility he feels towards his parents to be part of the family business, famous for its ice cream. It’s a feeling partly born out of gratitude for his parents’ wholehearted acceptance of his sexuality.
I confess Ted’s dream took me into a world I knew little about, not being familar with the TV programme he and his best friend Denise enjoy watching over a glass (or four) of ‘seccy’. In this respect I was in a similar position to Oskar, a young Polish man, who is on his own personal journey. The author has a real knack for creating memorable characters and I absolutely adored Oskar. For instance, I loved that, in an effort to improve his English, he learns a new word every day including some peculiar to Lancashire. There’s also a tender moment involving him at the end of the book that provoked the same reaction in me as does that scene at the end of the film, The Railway Children.
Denise has her own experience of toxic relationships but is an instantly enthusiastic supporter of Ted’s dream offering much needed emotional and practical assistance to help him achieve it. Initially I thought Stanley, an older gay man with a love of wearing pink and listening to Barbra Streisand, was a bit of a stereotype but in fact what he tells Ted about his experiences of being gay in the 1950s at a time when homosexuality was illegal acts as a serious reminder of what a long fight it has been to gain acceptance. Oskar’s story also highlights the homophobia that some gay people still face today.
I liked how we see Ted grow in confidence, learn to stand up for himself and reject taking the easy way out when it is offered. He has a dream and this time he’s not going to let anyone stop him achieving it, not even that inner voice that tells him maybe he’s just not good enough. As it turns out, he’s a natural.
The uplifting, joyful message of the book is perhaps summed up by Denise. ‘She catches a tiny glimpse of a future that might just involve happiness, that might just involve love.’
In three words: Tender, funny, heart-warming
About the Author
Matt Cain is an author, a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues, and a former journalist.
He is currently a presenter for Virgin Radio Pride UK, was Channel 4’s first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, and has judged the Costa Prize, the Polari Prize and the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. He won Diversity in Media’s Journalist Of the Year award in 2017 and is an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month. Born in Bury and brought up in Bolton, he now lives in London. (Bio: Publisher author page/Photo: Twitter profile)