#BookReview #20BooksOfSummer Book 1 – The Birds of the Innocent Wood by Deirdre Madden

First book has been read! And was it one on my original list?! NO, of course it wasn’t!! I went browsing in the library and spotted this one and couldn’t resist it for the ‘little’ side of my reading challenge!  So here’s more about the book, and my thoughts!


When James proposes, it seems like an opportunity for Jane to leave her lonely past behind and become part of a family. But the presence of a woman in the cottage near their remote farmhouse threatens Jane’s new-found happiness.

This compelling novel by one of Ireland’s finest writers won a Somerset Maugham Award.

‘Madden’s achievement is to make partial revelations about obscure lives as gripping as a thriller. Her style is passionate, emotional, but never obvious and does not admit a single cliche or badly written sentence.’ Observer (less)

Published by Faber & Faber


For a little book (only 148 pages), there is so much going on in this story that I found it totally absorbing, atmospheric, dark and dramatic and really enjoyed every single page, even if it was often very depressing! I found the way that the author split the story worked brilliantly and allowed you to take on board the way that the actions of others impacted on those closest to them. The exploration of family, loneliness and dealing with loss was superbly dealt with and allowed you to feel the pain of each of the characters.

The story starts with Jane who was an only child and very poorly, and while she was in hospital she tragically lost both parents. When well enough to leave hospital she goes to live with her aunt who isn’t interested in the young girl in the slightest and packs er off to a convent boarding school at the age of 5. She settles into this way of life quite quickly and developes a very strong faith which is shaken as the years go by. She then settles into a routine life working in an office where she meets James – two lonely souls brought together by desperation to escape their lives.

We then hear from Sarah and Catherine, 2 sisters who we learn are Jane’s daughters, and their stories of how their lives turned out after their mother’s dies. It’s clear that they have both been affected by how they grew up and it is fascinating to see their different personalities emerge and how the loss of others seems to hang over them all.

The chapters chop and change from different timelines as we go back to look at Jane’s life, alongside events that are troubling her daughters and I loved being shocked by the misery that kept befalling them in various guises. 

It’s definitely not a cheery read but there’s so much going on that packs a punch and I’m fascinated to read more from this author as I’d not heard about her before and intrigued to see how she approaches different subjects!