BookReview BOOTH by KAREN JOY FOWLER

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the Man Booker finalist and bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes an epic novel about the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history: John Wilkes Booth.

In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next 16 years. Junius Booth—breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways—is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.

As the children grow and the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and disasters begin to take their toll. A startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of brother- and sisterhood, Booth is a riveting historical novel focused on the very things that bind, and break, a family.

PUBLISHED BY SERPENT’S TAIL

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

 MY REVIEW

This has been my favourite book to read off the Booker Longlist 2022 – no wonder it never made it to the shortlist! I’m a kiss of death to books!! But I found this piece of historical storytelling to be totally absorbing and really gave a sense of life from 1822 onwards in America, when so much was going on politically and had such an impact on people all across the country.

John Wilkes Booth is a name known to many as the man who shot Abraham Lincoln, and this book centres around the Booth family – their beginnings and encounters in the years leading up to that event. I love how each character is given their own voice to tell their own story – how the children had to grow up fast to be responsible for the parents, the struggles,the successes, the losses…. it really gives you a glimpse into how people lived at the times and how political changes were impacting families.

The story is told over a number of years and that had the most impact for me – you could see how their lives were impacted by things they saw, people they met – and then alongside their story, the story of Lincoln and how his life was panning out so it gave you a real sense of the timelines of these families whose paths were about to cross….oh and there’s a character called Harriet Mace and I do always like to see a namesake character in a book!

I found it to be totally absorbing and loved seeing the different points of view, especially of the siblings of JWB. The incident of ‘that night’ that is in the history books, is only a very small part of this book and that worked so brilliantly for me as a reader. It was described perfectly, alongside the aftershock for the family and how they found out what their brother had done.

I found this to be a fabulous read and gave me great insight in to such an infamous name in history and the impact that has on the family around.

★★★★★

BlogTour EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD @renardpress @iain_hood #BookReview

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD.

My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

Every Trick in the Book

Iain Hood

There’s only control, control of ourselves and others. And you have to decide what part you play in that control.

Cast your eye over the comfortable north London home of a family of high ideals, radical politics and compassionate feelings. Julia, Paul and their two daughters, Olivia and Sophie, look to a better society, one they can effect through ORGAN:EYES, the campaigning group they fundraise for and march with, supporting various good causes.

But is it all too good to be true? When the surface has been scratched and Paul’s identity comes under the scrutiny of the press, a journey into the heart of the family begins. Who are these characters really? Are any of them the ‘real’ them at all? Every Trick in the Book is a genre-deconstructing novel that explodes the police procedural and undercover-cop story with nouveau romanish glee. Hood overturns the stone of our surveillance society to show what really lies beneath.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Iain Hood was born in Glasgow and grew up in the seaside town of Ayr. He attended the University of Glasgow and Jordanhill College, and later worked in education in Glasgow and the west country. He attended the University of Manchester after moving to Cambridge, where he continues to live with his wife and daughter. His first novel, This Good Book, was published in 2021.

MY REVIEW

The phrase ‘appearances can be deceptive’ comes straight to mind after reading this book and it was another fabulous reading experience thanks to the author – if you’ve not picked up his previous book, This Good Book, then go grab that as well as you won’t be disappointed!  

It’s so difficult to pin this book down to any one particular genre, and it’s one of those story that resonates so clearly with the times we are living in, where all that glitters is not gold!  We are fed images of people with the perfect lives, believing the  perception of their happiness, but in Every Trick of the Book we see that sometimes people aren’t who they say they are, and their hidden lives are much darker and this book approaches that with humour and a bit of snark, and I loved it!  It doesn’t shirk away from poking fun at everybody – right, left, media, police, celebs – and shows it all up for the hypocrisy that is often displays!

At the heart of the story are a ‘normal’ family living a very comfortable life, on the surface, following the latest causes, and then a journalist starts digging and uncovers some uncomfortable truths about their real identities, and that’s where the fun and mayhem begins!

There’s always that mystery about what is being hidden,and why,  and that kept me turning the pages faster and faster to find out, and the redacted passages just add to the confusion and head scratching!  This is a smart book and one that makes you think, makes you laugh and makes you feel that we’re all just going through life just trying to make sense of it all!  And even when we think we’ve got it figured out, we’re often far from the mark!!

This, for me, was one of those books that makes you want to re-read it almost immediately so you can pick up on those hidden messages you may have missed first time round!   A book that ticks every box for me entertainment wise, and as for Who Do I Trust?! Absolutely nobody!!

★★★★★

BookReview THE NIGHT SHIP by JESS KIDD #TheNightShip

ABOUT THE BOOK

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.

PUBLISHED BY CANONGATE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Waterstones

MY REVIEW

Loved. Loved. Loved!!!


An astonishing piece of historical fiction that had me under its’ spell from page one and still has me mesmerized even now!! Jess Kidd has a wonderful way of storytelling, and I think this might be her best yet. Told over 2 timelines, featuring 2 amazing child characters who lived so far apart timewise, but had so much in common. Their stories will break your heart and inspire and I’m already itching to read it all over again!

This story is based on real life events, and starts in 1628 with Mayken who is travelling on board the Batavia with her nursemaid to a new life overseas. She has never met her father but is travelling to join him after the passing of her mother.

And in 1989, we meet the character of Gil, who is a lost soul after losing his mother and he’s travelling to live with his grandfather who lives on an Island and makes a living fishing. The Island is where the Batavia ran aground causing a huge loss of life.

The switching timelines work in tandem to perfection – the excitement of Mayken, the trepidation of Gil, as they both set out on different paths and exploring the loss of their mothers and the impact that has on them as very young children.

It’s a book that made me lose time as I just became so involved in the lives of these characters! From the settings, the complexity of family relationships to the pure emotion as you watch over these children as they’re faced with all kinds of challenges.

I could easily wax lyrical for hours about this book as it was just a sheer delight to read from start to finish, but I won’t so you can enjoy the drama of it all for yourself – cannot recommend it highly enough and easily one of my most favourite books of 2022.

★★★★★

BookReview ITHACA by CLAIRE NORTH @ClaireNorth42 @orbitbooks @Gambit589

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘The greatest power we woman can own, is that we take in secret . . . ‘

Seventeen years ago, king Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door . . .

But no one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne – not yet. Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

On Ithaca, everyone watches everyone else, and there is no corner of the palace where intrigue does not reign . . .

published by ORBIT BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Goldsboro Books – signed edition

Amazon

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a wonderfully illuminating re-tellng of Greek mythology that explores the woman, Penelope, behind the man, Odysseus, who came to the fore and has strong touches of feminism and showing the strengths of women in a very male dominated world.  Dismiss these women at your peril!

The story of Penelope is an intriguing one, and hearing her voice, mostly through the observations of Hera, was fascinating to see how she set about dealing with the loss of her husband, and the clamour around her to take over power. She’s also dealing with her son, Telemachus, who is full of that male pride and wanting to make sense of it all and make his father proud. There are different POV’s of various characters but their voices blend in to make the story so fresh, and really connected with me despite my lack of knowledge of a lot of greek mythology – this story has really made me more fascinated about it all and I now want to know more!

I loved the theme throughout of the strong women and ruthless men. Women were always undervalued or not ‘seen’ but these female characters all showed all the sides to them – supportive and ready to sabotage.. Hera being the narrator also gave an overview of other characters and showing the challenges they faced.

At the heart of the story is a tale of a family dealing with power and loss, and although it’s mostly about the female characters, I did find the story of the son really fascinating and it was good to have that different feel to his story.

This is a story of love and loss, rivalry and revenge, feasts and fights, brutality and betrayal and I found myself totally immersed in the world and the story is set up so nicely for book 2 – I can’t wait!!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Orbit Books for the proof copy which  I received in return for a fair and honest review.  The cross stitch kit too was fabulous and I need more book cover cross stitch kits in my life!

20BooksOfSummer2022 THE SECRET TO NOT DROWNING by COLETTE SNOWDEN #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

How did a girl who dreamed of being a Charlie’s Angel become such a cowed and submissive woman? On the surface Marion’s life seems fine, but she is controlled and bullied by her husband; her only ‘freedom’ is a weekly visit to the swimming baths. When a chance meeting with an old school-mate develops into a secret friendship, Marion is reminded of the person she used to be. And might still be, if she leaves her domineering husband. But is it too late?

published by Bluemoose

PURCHASE LINK


Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

This is Book 19 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

Some books just stop you in your track with their subject and intensity – and that is exactly what this one did to me! I couldn’t focus on anything else while reading it and felt so many emotions (mostly outrage and deep anger!) at the plight of Marion.

From the stark opening of the agony of losing a baby, to the terrors she felt on a daily basis under the control of her husband, there is an immediate connection as a reader to Marion. She keeps it together on the outside, but her inner thoughts give way to that fear of doing the wrong thing, upsetting the status quo, or even him just waking up on the wrong side of the bed to attack and belittle her – while he puts on the show of being the perfect husband … well, he does buy her flowers every week so that makes him a keeper eh…… he is an absolute a***hole and one of those narcissistic characters that make everything about him… no matter what.

She finds peace and sanctity at the local swimming pool, it gives her freedom and a chance to think back over how she used to be. And then a meeting with an old schoolfriend is another way she can start to find herself again, remembering the girl/woman she used to be before being controlled. She finds it very easy to give advice to others but never so easy to follow her own advice.

This was a shocking read at times, the level of psychological abuse from him was just next level nastiness, and I found myself just willing her to take back that control and find a way out.

It had that gripping feeling of claustrophobia as she was terrified of upsetting him, and wondering when will he next explode, and as a reader you find yourself holding your breath as you read waiting to see just how cruel he will be next…. and will that be the time she finds herself. A brilliant read – highly recommended.

★★★★★

20BookOfSummer2022 THE EIGHTH GIRL by MAXINE MEI-FUNG CHUNG #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

One woman, multiple personas.

But which one is telling the truth?

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?

PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM MORROW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is book 12 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

Dark. Intoxicating. Twisty. Gripping. …. blooming brilliant!! Fair to say that I loved this one and it was one of those stories that just kept me sat on my chair for ages at a time, often holding my breath wondering where the plots would take me next!! And they often took me to very dark places through the character of Alexa, and I loved every single minute of it!

Alexa has multiple personalities – I was a little worried how this would play out as a story, but the author has done a brilliant job of mixing them all so well, and allowing each ‘personality’ to share little glimpses into their world, while Alexa gets on with her often complicated life. And what a story she has to tell! When her best friend gets in trouble she finds herself going along for the ride, and the world she finds herself involved in is a very dark and scary place, involving the trafficking of young girls and sex work.

And we also get the POV of Daniel, her therapist, who is dealing with his own issues and watching her open up to him is very revealing and allows us to see the start of her problems from a very abusive childhood and constantly looking for ‘love’ and approval from people as she missed out on that. The world she finds herself becoming trapped in is full of other young girls who seem to be searching out for that too and it’s sad to see them mistaking sex for love, and the promise of security and money.

The twists and turns are perfectly played out and they got me good!! I always love a story that shocks and surprises and that is exactly what this did to me! A brilliant book that I cannot recommend highly enough!!

★★★★★

BookReview SOULJOURNER by PAUL STEVEN STONE #20BooksOfSummer2022

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Souljourner is a cult-classic in the making. It is by turns bizarre, bewildering, hilarious, infuriating and utterly engaging – strap yourself in and prepare to be swept up in this extraordinary karmic rollercoaster of a book.”

Where to start with Souljourner?

Let’s start with the author – Paul Steven Stone is either a madman or a genius – probably both – and he’s written one of the most gripping and enjoyable books we’ve ever come across.

It begins with a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey, we are spiritual beings on a human journey.”

– and that my friends sets the tone for everything that’s to come.

David Rockwood Worthington is in prison serving a life sentence for the murder of his 3rd wife and his incarceration is not going smoothly.

He’s being terrorised by rival gangs who insist he owes them each $6 million dollars – debts of which David claims to be entirely unaware. This perilous situation is complicated by the fact that the Internal Revenue Service wants to talk to him about the $18 million dollars he has stashed in secret Cayman Island accounts – accounts which David also claims to be entirely unaware of.

On top of all that, his prison psychologist doesn’t seem to like him very much.

The central premise of this novel – if it is indeed a novel (the narrator insists it is in fact a warning letter from your soul’s previous incarnation) – is that our souls make their eternal journey towards enlightenment in the company of a single unchanging ‘karmic pod’ of companion souls who take on different roles in each of our incarnations.

In one life a soul may appear as your mother, in the next your best friend, in the next your sworn enemy, in the next your lover and so on for eternity.

The identities of the souls in your ‘karmic pod’ are hidden from you in life – this letter/novel seeks to wise you up to who’s who in your karmic pod to help you avoid making the same mistakes that landed our David in prison.

PUBLISHED BY FAHRENHEIT PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

This is book 9 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

If you’re looking for a book that excites and takes you off on all different tangents, then look no further!! I found this to be a fabulously quirky read, that looks into the roles of ‘karma’ and unreliable narrators and it took me to places I still don’t think I’ve arrived back from!!

David is a the heart of the story – in jail for murdering his 3rd wife – and being targeted by gangs for money they claim he owes them, while also being investigated by the IRS about the millions they claim he’s hiding from them…. he swears he knows nothing about any money! Do we dare believe a ‘murderer’?!

The narration is top notch – you’re being ‘chatted’ to and on the premise that you are here reading this book for a reason – fate has bought this book into your life at this time for a reason! And that begins the journey of looking into reincarnations and all things happening for a reason to bring you to certain points in your life. Is it payback for sins committed in a previous life?

With David being in jail, he has plenty of time on his hands to think and that starts his look back over the people and circumstances in his life that leads him to this point, and I loved that conflict he finds himself in as he tries to make sense of it all.

We also hear the viewpoint of Dr Robert who is interviewing David, and gets him to open up more about relationships and to try and explain why he has blackouts and no memories of the events that led him to jail. And there are interjections from his dead wives, adding their take on matters, and what you’re left with is a mash up of conflicts and confusion!

Added to the mix are plenty of Beatles mentions that had me reaching for a Beatles playlist, and a shock ending that caught me off guard!! Can’t wait to go back and read this one again to enjoy the creativity and karmic madness!! Fabulous!

★★★★★ 

#BookReview THE MOVEMENT by AYISHA MALIK #TheMovement @headlinepg

ABOUT THE BOOK

With words come power. But do you speak out or shut up?

Everywhere Sara Javed goes – online or outside – everyone is shouting about something. Couldn’t they all just shut up? One day she takes her own advice.

At first people don’t understand her silence and are politely confused at best. But the last thing Sara could anticipate is becoming the figurehead of a global movement that splits society in two.

The Silent Movement sparks outrage in its opposers. Global structures start to shift. And the lives of those closest to Sara – as well as strangers inspired by her act – begin to unravel.

It’s time for the world to reconsider what it means to have a voice.

A sharply observed novel, charged with compassion and dark wit, that will spark important conversations about how we live, relate and communicate now

.PUBLISHED BY REVIEW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW

Wow!! This has gone straight into my favourite books of 2022!! This is one of those books that is perfect for the times we are living in as it balances out so many pros and cons of this ever increasingly loud world that we live in nowadays. Once I’d started this book I just couldn’t put it down!

Sara is a successful author, but she’s sick of the shouty world she finds herself living in. People jostling for their opinions to be heard and shared online and IRL – something I think we can all relate to! – so she does the unthinkable and takes a vow of silence. Much to the disgust of her Publishers who want her to accept awards, make speeches etc about her book. So The Silent Movement begins and her silence gets the world talking, and makes a lot of people worry.

Two women she inspires, Grace and Zainab, then share their stories of their journey into the Silent Movement and I loved seeing different perspectives of other characters and the dialogue it sparks between people. Women have fought so hard to have a voice so is the actions of people joining this movement, undermining all that women fought for?! Or is there more power in silence?

The story is told over a number of years and follows these women on their different paths and the reactions over the world are quite staggering. A lot of powerful people are worried, and the parallels with how we found ourselves living fairly recently with strict guidelines really struck home with me. The governments try banning the movement, the resistance grows – it throws up so many moral questions that you will find yourself for and against it at some point as you read!

it also throws out the dilemma that are some people just making noise for the sake of it? By people being quiet they find themselves with more time to think, and deleting social media also makes them happier individuals…. so very true of our reality now!

This is an epic book that centres on the right to choose, something also very central to the world of today. This is a book that made me think so much about what I say, how to say it and how our actions can impact so much, especially around the subject of feminism and women’s rights. A staggering book that needs to be read by all!! Go buy it!! Thank me, silently, later!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE LITTLE HOUSE BY THE SEA by TRACY REES

ABOUT THE BOOK

Bluebells bob in the salty sea wind and the cottage gate swings open to reveal the inky-blue cove. It’s exactly how Kitty always pictured it… except in her head, she wasn’t standing here alone.

Kitty Roberts spends her days searching for the perfect home for two… until her boyfriend dumps her. Devastated, she flees to a tiny seaside village called Pennystrand, where she spent golden summers as a child, before her family fell apart.

At first, Kitty’s dramatic escape proves to be exactly what she needs – golden sunsets over warm, sandy beaches, lovably eccentric new neighbours and even a blush-inducing run-in with Cory Hudson, a floppy-haired local surfer with a heart-stopping smile.

But just as Kitty feels herself beginning to heal, Cory reveals that his time in Pennystrand is nearly up. What’s more, some strange reactions to Kitty in town make her wonder if her connection to this place might go deeper than she thought.

What is this tranquil little village hiding? It seems there’s a secret in Kitty’s past that is about to turn her life on its head once more… Is she ready for the truth? And will it bring her and Cory closer together, or drive them apart?

A page-turning story full of unexpected twists and turns. It will make you smile, laugh and wish you could visit Pennystrand! Absolutely perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Heidi Swain and Carole Matthews.

PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE

PUBLICATION DATE – 24TH AUGUST 2022

PRE-ORDER LINK

AMAZON

MY REVIEW

Loved Loved Loved!! This is one of those books that puts a smile on your face and warms your heart! And it was just a wonderful treat to read in the sunshine – and to know that you’re not alone in being someone who searches estate agents looking and dreaming of that perfect life away from it all!

Kitty is the main character in this book and she’s looking for something but she’s not sure what! Her happy times are spent in estate agents looking for a dream house, away from the noise and bustle of London – her other half Mitch doesn’t share that dream but fate soon finds a way for her to follow her own path!!

So she finds herself moving to Wales to reassess her life, in a place where she has happy memories from her childhood and with her family. She finds a lovely spot to stay with a nice landlady, and soon finds herself at the heart of the village, trying to make new friends and find a new way of life.

I loved how she threw herself into her new life, and how new doors, literally!, opened up for her! There was lots of fun banter and the introduction of Cory really spices things up and their relationship was just perfect! There’s also a little mystery thrown in, along with some shocking family secrets and I just loved how the story evolved and didn’t want it to end! Home truly is where the heart is!!

★★★★★

#BookReview BLUE HOUR by SARAH SCHMIDT @headlinepg @Emily_JP #BlueHour

ABOUT THE BOOK

She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place. ‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe. We never have to come back here.’ She eyes the rearview mirror, keeps a look out for headlights, keeps a look out for him.

As dawn breaks over sleeping houses, Eleanor straps her infant daughter Amy, into the back of her car. Together they will escape the private hell of Eleanor’s marriage to make the drive to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood. Can she be sure that her husband, Braun, is not on their trail?

As the car eats up the long miles of highway, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into the depths of her childhood, and into her fraught relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty a woman who wanted so much, in marriage and in love. Kitty who always tried to hard to bend Eleanor, her brother and her father, to her image of the perfect family.

In her masterful second book, Sarah Schmidt, acclaimed author of SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE? reworks the classic road novel to tense, devastating, and ultimately redemptive effect.

PUBLISHED BY HEADLINE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This was an exquisite read. Often troubling, very dark and unflinching in the way it explores relationships, it is a story that grips you from page one and still has a hold on you long after you close the book up after finishing it.

It’s the story of a family over different generations – starting with the dramatic story of Eleanor who is leaving with her daughter Amy, walking away from her marriage, to escape to blue mountain where she has the strongest memories from her childhood. It was her refuge and you notice that nature is always her ‘get out’ at the most troublesome of times and that leads the story to take us back to her mother and father, cleverly switching between the 1970’s and the 1940’s.

The story of Kitty is another shocking aspect of this book. It tells of a troubled relationship with Eleanors’ father and how the times shaped their lives. Her life was always focussed on getting away from her parents, so she became a nurse tending to returning soldiers and it’s here she meets George and quickly falls in love. But they’re young and their passion soon fizzles out but she feels obligated to be with him – it seems to become her duty to take care of him when he returns a shell of his former self, dealing with his mood swings and she is pregnant too.

What follows is an exploration of those expectations of what life is – the reality of motherhood, the impact of mental illness on those around, and trying to make sense of it all and trying not to let history repeat itself. Noticing those signs and trying to change the course of your life, but then walking that same path allows her to understand what really was going on back in her childhood that she missed seeing.

This is a brutal book at times, it shares some explicit scenes as the author isn’t afraid to confront the worst of human relationships – the lengths people go to for love and the fine line between that and control. You get that sense of ownership, be it of a parent over a child, or a lover over a partner, and how dark and soul destroying that impacts on the people involved.

There is so much hurt in this family that your heart just breaks as you read their stories. There’s tragedy throughout and it can make this a very disturbing read at times, but it just lays bare the realities and complexities that humans face, and how that shapes them in their journey and future relationships.

There are shocking revelations littered throughout which just adds to the emotional impact of this story, but it is a staggering piece of work and although it may break you at times as it did me, it is one of those powerful stories that you feel honoured to have read. Stunning! 

★★★★★

My thanks to Emily Patience and Headline Books for the advance copy in return for a fair and honest review.