REVIEW: The Herd

Ooh, now who’s up for a nice, juicy moral dilemma?

Yes? Well look no further than this timely novel, written by Emily Edwards and published this year (2022) by Penguin.

Elizabeth and Bryony are best, though unlikely, friends with very different personalities. They have been close for many years and are godmothers to each other’s daughters. They live in the same, well-to-do street, their husbands are friends and everything is right with their lives.

However, Bryony has a brother and their mother is adamant he was rendered autistic by childhood vaccinations. She is a passionate and vocal anti vaxxer and has instilled her views on Bryony and her sister.

Elizabeth had both her sons vaccinated but was unable to vaccinate her daughter Clemmie because she suffered febrile convulsions as a baby. She hopes to keep her daughter safe through herd immunisation.

Now, this book was written pre-pandemic but, you have to admit, the ‘to vax or not to vax’ argument has really been pushed to the fore with our Covid years.

Whichever side of the vaccination argument you are on, this novel makes you think about what you would do to protect your children and how that relates to relationships with other people.

It’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of the topic, and I enjoyed it mainly because it didn’t seek to preach either option to me.

Obviously, a disaster occurs within these pages – there has to be conflict somewhere – and I’m not going to tell you what that disaster is. Suffice to say it leads to recriminations, grief, guilt and a breakdown of a long-standing relationship and how these play out is treated sensitively and gently.

It made me think and I love that in a novel.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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