Throwback Thursday: Lady Susan by Jane Austen

ThrowbackThursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago. If you decide to take part, please link back to It’s Book Talk.

This week, a proper throwback! I’m sharing my review of Lady Susan by Jane Austen, a short epistolary novel thought to have been written in 1794 (when Jane Austen would have been 19) but never submitted for publication by the author and only published in 1871, years after her death. It’s a book I read as part of the Classics Club Challenge and my From Page to Screen Challenge, based around books adapted into films.  You can read my comparison of the book and the film, Love and Friendshiphere.

lady-susanAbout the Book

Lady Susan takes the form of letters between Lady Susan Vernon and her friend Mrs Johnson, between Lady Susan’s sister-law, Mrs Vernon, and her mother Lady de Courcy and Mrs Vernon’s brother, Reginald. Lady Susan is beautiful, flirtatious and recently widowed. The letters tell of her attempts to seek an advantageous second marriage for herself and persuade her daughter into a decidedly less attractive match.

My version was a free to download edition from Amazon.

Find Lady Susan on Goodreads


My Review

Although a juvenile work that ends rather abruptly (as if the author tired of writing it), Lady Susan has the trademark wit and ability to skewer social foibles one associates with later Jane Austen novels. Notably, the eponymous heroine is an older woman who is by turns scheming, selfish, unscrupulous and conducting an unsuitable relationship with a married man. Lady Susan has no compunction about freeloading from relatives, telling falsehoods or manipulating others. Not exactly the typical heroine of a romantic novel! However, Austen manages to make the reader admire Lady Susan, if not for her morals, for her independent spirit and sheer determination to live life to the full.

The one aspect of Lady Susan’s character that gives the reader pause for thought is her awful treatment of her daughter, Frederica, whom she describes as “a stupid girl” with “nothing to recommend her”. In fact, Frederica is a rather charming young girl but suffers in Lady Susan’s eyes because of her “artlessness” when it comes to capturing a man. When Frederica resists her mother’s plan for her to marry the brainless Sir James, Lady Susan congratulates herself on her maternal affection in not insisting on the marriage, remarking that she will merely make Frederica “thoroughly uncomfortable till she does accept him”.

Lady Susan has a fitting partner-in-crime in her friend, Mrs Johnson, who advises Lady Susan to pursue Reginald de Courcy on the grounds that his father is “very infirm, and not likely to stand in your way long”. Mrs Johnson herself has the misfortune to be married to a man “just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die.”   Only Mrs Vernon is able to see through Lady Susan’s duplicity: “Her address to me was so gentle, frank, and even affectionate, that, if I had not known how much she has always disliked me for marrying Mr Vernon, and that we had never met before, I should have imagined her an attached friend.”

Lady Susan succeeds in capturing a husband as does Frederica, although one suspects that Frederica will find more happiness in matrimony than her mother.

Although I enjoyed the book, it does end rather abruptly and the limitations of an epistolary novel mean the characters are never fully fleshed out. However, for fans of Jane Austen, it is of interest as an early indicator of her literary potential

In three words: Witty, engaging, sprightly

Try something similar: Emma by Jane Austen

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JaneAustenAbout the Author

Jane Austen is one of the most widely read and historically important novelists in English literature famed for her realism, wit and biting social commentary.

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WWW Wednesdays – 30 August

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too? Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

AndTheBirdsKeptOnSingingAnd The Birds Kept On Singing by Simon Bourke (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Pregnant at seventeen, Sinéad McLoughlin does the only thing she can; she runs away from home. She will go to England and put her child up for adoption. But when she lays eyes on it for the first time, lays eyes on him, she knows she can never let him go. Just one problem. He’s already been promised to someone else.  A tale of love and loss, remorse and redemption, And The Birds Kept On Singing tells two stories, both about the same boy. In one Sinéad keeps her son and returns home to her parents, to nineteen-eighties Ireland and life as a single mother. In the other she gives him away, to the Philliskirks, Malcolm and Margaret, knowing that they can give him the kind of life she never could. As her son progresses through childhood and becomes a young man, Sinéad is forced to face the consequences of her decision. Did she do the right thing? Should she have kept him, or given him away? And will she spend the rest of her life regretting the choices she has made?

OneDayinDecemberOne Day in December by Shari Low (eARC, courtesy of Aria Fiction)

By the stroke of midnight, a heart would be broken, a cruel truth revealed, a devastating secret shared, and a love betrayed. Four lives would be changed forever, One Day in December.

One morning in December… Caro set off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father had been based on a lifetime of lies. Lila decided today would be the day that she told her lover’s wife of their secret affair. Cammy was on the way to pick up the ring for the surprise proposal to the woman he loved. And Bernadette vowed that this was the day she would walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years and never look back. One day, four lives on a collision course with destiny…

Recently finished

TakeCourageTake Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis (hardcover, own copy)

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings – virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead. Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time – and her more celebrated siblings – and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.

ADangerousWomanfromNowhereA Dangerous Woman From Nowhere by Kris Radish (eARC)

Briar Logan is a loner who has already survived a wretched childhood, near starvation, and the harsh western frontier in the 1860s. Just when she is on the brink of finally opening her heart to the possibilities of happiness, the love of her life is kidnapped by lawless gold miners – and she steels herself for what could be the greatest loss of her life. Desperate to save her husband and the solitary life they have carved out of the wilderness, Briar is forced to accept the help of a damaged young man and a notorious female horse trainer. Facing whiskey runners, gold thieves, unpredictable elements, and men who will stop at nothing to get what they want, the unlikely trio must forge an uncommon bond in order to survive. Full of lessons of love, letting go, and the real meaning of family, A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere is a timeless western adventure story about courage, change, risk, and learning how to unlock damaged hearts and live in the sweet moments of now

What Cathy (will) Read Next

TheIndigoGirlThe Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd (eARC)

1739 – Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family’s three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything. Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it’s the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it’s impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return—against the laws of the day—she will teach the slaves to read. So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

StrangerStranger by David Bergen (paperback, review copy courtesy of Duckworth)

Íso Perdido, a young Guatemalan woman, works at a fertility clinic at Ixchel, named for the Mayan goddess of creation and destruction. Íso tends to the rich women who visit the clinic for the supposed conception-enhancing properties of the local lake. She is also the lover of Dr. Mann, the American doctor in residence. When an accident forces the doctor to leave Guatemala abruptly, Íso is abandoned, pregnant. After the birth, tended to by the manager of the clinic, the baby disappears. Determined to reclaim her daughter, Íso follows a trail north, eventually crossing illegally into a United States where the rich live in safe zones, walled away from the indigent masses. Traveling without documentation, and with little money, Íso must penetrate this world, and in this place of menace and shifting boundaries, she must determine who she can trust and how much, aware that she might lose her daughter forever.

TheSmallestThingThe Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield (ebook, review copy courtesy of Xpresso Tours)

The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back. But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit? Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult – and fall in love – in the midst of tragedy.

Book Review: The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath

TheWardrobeMistressAbout the Book

January 1947. London is in ruins, there’s nothing to eat, and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. To make matters worse, Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day, has suddenly died.

His widow Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is beside herself with grief. Then one night she discovers Gricey’s secret.

Plunged into a dark new world, she realises that the war isn’t over after all.

Format: ebook Publisher: Cornerstone Pages: 320
Publication: 7th Sep 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction    

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Waterstones UK
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Wardrobe Mistress on Goodreads


My Review

Firstly, as an aside, can I say how good it is to come across a book blurb that is concise and doesn’t give too much away! Secondly, can I admit this is the first book I’ve read by Patrick McGrath but, on the strength of The Wardrobe Mistress, it certainly won’t be the last.

The book opens at the funeral of Charlie ‘Gricey’ Grice and the reader is immediately introduced to the ‘chorus’ who will be the book’s narrators, omnipresent onlookers to all the action. There is a sense that they already know what’s going to happen, that events are playing out in front of them as if in a play.

Gricey’s widow, Joan, is grief stricken at his death, finding solace in the touch and smell of his clothes, imagining she can hear his voice and sure she can sense his lingering presence. Her belief that Gricey’s spirit lives on is confirmed by the uncanny ability of the actor who takes over Gricey’s part in the play – Frank Stone – to enact the role exactly as her husband did – every mannerism, gesture and mode of speech exactly as he would have performed it. But, of course, everyone else knows Gricey is dead.

‘It’s certainly what we thought, and to think otherwise was mad, frankly, and heartbreaking too, poor Joan. But it seemed she could think both things at once, that he was dead, and alive too, in the body of another man.’

Frank’s performance – his ability to inhabit so perfectly the role performed by Gricey – is the spark that brings him and Joan together.   In addition, Frank’s obvious poverty as a not very successful actor and his aura of neediness awaken something in Joan. Only later does she begin to detect the fierce streak of ambition under the surface.

And it’s not long before Joan discovers that her beloved Gricey wasn’t the man she thought he was. He’d concealed things from her, things that would have made her think quite differently about him: ‘Gricey – the hypocrite. Gricey the deceiver. The betrayer. The charlatan, the traitor. Oh, he was a character all right…’ It becomes apparent that his life outside the theatre was as much a performance as when he was on stage: ‘Their life together now seemed nothing but an elaborate performance of pretence and disguise, yes, his whole life a performance, he’d never stopped performing…’

Joan’s disgust when she finds out the truth leads her down a path that will have far-reaching consequences and only increase her sense of grief, loneliness, betrayal and desperation. ‘It was another kind of grief she felt, and far worse, with what she thought of as the second death. Her sorrow now was for herself, that he hadn’t allowed her to hold him in her memory as she would have liked to, but had left her with only a mask.’

The author evocatively conjures up the atmosphere of post-war London: the food shortages, the cold, the grime, and the people struggling to get by.  ‘Magnificent in victory, oh yes – and bankrupt. Morally magnificent and economically broke. Exhausted. Oh, England. Smog, ruins, drab clothes, bad food, bomb craters and rats. There was work to be had – demolition.’  And although the war may be over, it isn’t the end of the evil forces that caused it or the need to fight against extremism and hate (a need which, sadly, continues to this day).

Against this backdrop, it’s easy to see the lure of the theatre with its bright lights and ability – if only temporary – to transport the audience to another place, away from the everyday struggle to earn a living, to keep warm.   If it isn’t too obvious a metaphor, the theatre plays a key role in the book along with the recurrent theme of performance.  The craft of the actors on stage and the thrill of live performance is celebrated.

‘He had of course that fierce bright fire in his eyes, it was always there when they came off stage at the end of the night, when they were full of life and of themselves.’

The role of the backstage staff, like Joan, proud of her skill as a wardrobe mistress and ruling the sewing room with a rod of iron, is recognised as well.

‘For it was an assault, what was suffered by the costumes in which actors stepped out each night then ripped off between scenes, until Joan and her girls took them in hand, applied sharp needles and, whispering soft words, brought them back good as new before sending them out to be ravaged again the next night.’

And as the book shows, it’s not only actors who use costume as a means of creating a character for themselves.  Nowhere is the single-minded intensity needed to be a successful actor more effectively conveyed than in the character of Vera, Joan’s daughter. In Vera, the insecurities of an actor preparing for performance are writ large. One moment she’s withdrawing into her own private space and the next she’s almost preying on others to harvest the real-life experiences needed to produce her stage performance.

The Wardrobe Mistress had it all for me: atmospheric period setting, intriguing mystery and well-developed characters.  I also enjoyed its very moving exploration of grief and betrayal, its joyful celebration of the theatre and insightful examination of the act of performance.  Highly recommended.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers Cornerstone, return for an honest review.

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In three words: Atmospheric, compelling, moving

Try something similar…Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson (click here to read my review)


PatrickMcGrathAbout the Author

Patrick McGrath was born in London in 1950. He grew up in the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital, the largest top-security mental hospital in the UK, where his father was Medical Superintendent. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit public school in Lancashire. In 1967 he left Stonyhurst under a cloud. In 1971 he graduated from the City of Birmingham College of Commerce with an honors degree in English and American Literature, awarded externally by the University of London.

Later that year he moved to Penetang, Ontario, where he worked in the Oakridge top-security unit of the Penetang Mental Health Centre. He then moved to British Columbia. There he worked as a kindergarten teacher, a bar-room musician, and a graduate student at Simon Fraser University. Since 1981 he has lived in Manhattan. He is married to actress and theatre director, Maria Aitken, and lives in New York City.

In 2017, Patrick McGrath accepted the offer of an honorary doctorate from the University of Stirling, in Scotland.

Connect with Patrick

Website ǀ Twitter ǀ Goodreads

 

Q&A: An American Cage by Ted Galdi

I’m delighted to welcome today’s guest to What Cathy Read Next – Ted Galdi. Ted is the author of Elixir, a thrilling story featuring a 14-year-old with an IQ above 200 and a million dollars win on Jeopardy. Elixir has over 250 five star ratings on Goodreads.  To purchase Elixir click here.

Ted’s latest book, out in October, is a suspenseful thriller played out over the period of a day. And it’s this book – An American Cage – that he’s here to talk about today. To keep up to date with the latest news about An American Cage, sign up for Ted’s newsletter.

Book bloggers: An American Cage is available to read and review now via NetGalley.

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AnAmericanCageAbout the Book

Three inmates break out of a maximum-security prison in Texas, one of them Danny Marsh, a suburban kid in his twenties who landed in jail because of a crime he never intended to commit. An American Cage follows Danny and his two escape partners over a twenty-four-hour period as they struggle to cross Texas to freedom in Mexico.

On this dangerous journey, Danny has to evade the rabid Texas authorities, and even worse, the schemes of one of his closest allies, who isn’t who he seems.

Watch the book trailer:

Format: ebook Publisher: Pages: 297
Publication: 16th Oct 2017 Genre: Thriller

Find An American Cage on Goodreads


Interview: Ted Galdi, author of An American Cage

Without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about An American Cage?

It’s a fast-paced thriller with a psychological element. Danny Marsh, the protagonist, is a suburban twenty-something who lands in jail due to bad luck. He escapes with two of his friends from prison. The story follows them over a twenty-four-hour period as they try to cross Texas to safety in Mexico. Along the way, things keep getting worse for Danny. He realizes a major ally hasn’t been completely truthful with him. Soon a lot more than his freedom is at stake. His life – and those of his family – are in danger.

How did you get the idea for the book?

As mentioned, it has a psychological element. Around the time I decided to write it, I was very interested in the philosophy of consciousness. The psychological element touches on this topic and plays a major role in the book’s theme. A prison-escape premise lent itself to this broader message. It was a great way to explore motifs like entrapment, social norms, rebellion, and good and evil, while also telling a suspenseful story with a lot of adrenaline.

Your previous book, Elixir, was aimed at the YA market. To what extent is An American Cage an attempt to appeal to a different audience?

Elixir features a teen protagonist, so very much has an appeal to the YA crowd. However, the pacing, theme and overall “feel” of Elixir is suited to the adult market as well. People of many ages have read it and dropped me emails, which is pretty cool. An American Cage is definitely an adult thriller, however I see mature YA readers liking it too. Much of Elixir’s audience I’d say falls in this group. Since the book goes into things like code breaking and corporate corruption, and has some darker parts, a typical eighteen-year-old would be more likely to pick it up than a typical thirteen-year-old. Older teens who enjoyed Elixir should enjoy An American Cage.

What is your favourite type of scene to write?

Like a mother, I have no favourites!

What was the biggest challenge you encountered when writing the book?

I grew up in a suburb of New York City so I’m very much a Yankee and have been living in California the last seven years. The entire book takes place in Texas, which is a place that has its own style. It’s so big and diverse that many of the regions have their own style too. I’ve visited Texas a few times and loved it, but never lived there. This lack of hands-on experience was a challenge.  The book wouldn’t feel authentic if I got the local nuances wrong. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time researching the parts of Texas where An American Cage takes place. It was a challenge, but it was fun.

If An American Cage was to be made into a film, who would you love to see play Danny, Monty and Phil?

I’ve been asked this before about Danny and said River Phoenix. Unfortunately that’s only a hypothetical but he’d have played the part great. As for Monty and Phil, Tyrese Gibson and Christoph Waltz. They’re a bit older than the characters in the book, but can definitely pull it off.

Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?

I’m pretty simple in that regard. I have a little desk by a window I write at. Like most writers, I love my coffee. I don’t drink it while I write though. I get it to go and have it on a walk. A long walk with some good coffee is the best way to clear your head. I get a lot of story ideas doing this.

What is your favourite and least favourite part of the writing process?

My favorite part is connecting with readers. I love getting emails from people telling me they got something out of what I wrote. I don’t have a least favorite part. A lot of writers make it seem like the whole thing is this big, pained labor. Not for me.

Which other writers do you admire, and why?

John Updike is my favorite author. His Rabbit series is terrific. Someone who can write about traditionally “dry” topics, like the foot traffic through a car-dealership showroom, but do it in such a way where it’s deeply engaging, is a true pro.  Cormac McCarthy is great as well. I love his cinematic style, where the story is played out visually from first page to last. He’s also able to create very powerful moods without explicitly drawing attention to what he’s doing. This is a very tricky thing for an author. For instance, in Blood Meridian or the Border Trilogy, even in scenes where there’s no actual violence, you can feel something sinister brewing between the words. I really admire David Foster Wallace too. His themes, even of his short stories, can be extremely complex and perfectly clear at the same time. He was very much a serious, intellectual writer but wasn’t afraid to be funny. I cringed, as was his intention, through a lot of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, while also laughing out loud in places.

What are you working on next?

Another thriller. It’s too early to give you much more info than that. When it’s ready, I’d be happy to come back and chat.

Thank you, Ted, for sharing the inspiration behind An American Cage and your writing journey.


TedGaldiAbout the Author

Ted Galdi is the author of the bestselling novel Elixir. The book is a winner of a Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award and a Silver Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Ted is a graduate of Duke University and lives in Los Angeles. He has been featured by ABC and FOX television, iHeartRadio, Examiner, and many other media outlets. His second novel, An American Cage, is set for release Fall 2017.

Connect with Ted

Website ǀ Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Goodreads ǀ YouTube ǀ Instagram

 

Book Review: Holding on to Hurt by Charlotte Roth

HoldingOnToHurtAbout the Book

“I dread that every day I live, I’m one day further away from my life with Scottie”.

Irene Hurt has always dreamed of having a large family with her adoring husband Bruce. That dream is shattered when her doctor performs a hysterectomy after the birth of her only son, Scottie. Though heartbroken, Irene accepts the outcome and cherishes every moment with her son and her husband, until…the day she gets the call every mother dreads. Scottie is injured in a mass school shooting and is rushed to the ICU, where he’s put into a medically induced coma to wait out his fate. Devastated, Bruce pulls away and even tries to convince Irene to remove Scottie’s life support, to save his son from a life of lesser existence. But, Irene refuses to give up hope. On her journey through grief, denial, anger and finally, acceptance, Irene discovers more about the events of that tragic day, the boy who shot her son and then took his own life, and the husband she thought she knew and could trust. Will Scottie pull through and, once again, be the glue that keeps this family together? Or, will Irene accept that sometimes, the best thing a mother can do for her child is let go? Set in the darkest hours of winter in Seattle, Holding on to Hurt tells the gripping story of one mother’s fight to keep her son alive, no matter what she has to sacrifice.

Format: ebook Publisher:   Pages: 229
Publication: 20th May 2017 Genre: Contemporary    

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Holding on to Hurt on Goodreads


My Review

Irene Hurt seems to have the perfect life: a lovely home, a handsome husband (Bruce) and an adorable son (Scottie). It may seem a little cheesy but it certainly provides a telling counterpoint to what’s to come. (As a Brit, the only part of this perfect life I found hard to understand was having a shooting range in a barn in your garden, and a culture where it is acceptable – and commonplace – for private individuals to own handguns.)

When Scottie is caught up in a shooting on his school bus, Irene and Bruce’s perfect world comes crashing down around them. Escaping serious bullet wounds but suffering a severe head injury in an effort to escape the bullets, Scottie is placed in a medically induced coma. After several days of no change, his doctors are increasingly pessimistic about his prognosis. Not just about to what extent he will recover but whether he will recover at all.

Irene and Bruce each react very differently to Scottie’s injury and prognosis and the author chooses to have these fall along pretty much stereotypical gender lines. As Scottie’s nurse, Hannah explains:

‘It’s kinda like in a marriage. The guy calls the plumber when the toilet is broken; the woman takes care of the friend with a broken heart when she comes knocking on the door. Guys only like things that can be fixed.’

Irene and Bruce’s divergent views about Scottie’s future start to create deep fault-lines in their previously rock-solid marriage.

Irene’s instinct is not to leave her son’s side and to hope for a miracle; that he will awaken from his coma and be largely unaffected by his injury. She believes that if she clings to this hope strongly and steadfastly enough that everything will work out alright. For her, it is the intensity of her belief that is crucial. In pursuit of this, she spends every minute at his bedside, speaking to him, telling him stories, playing his favourite movies, surrounding him with family photo’s in the belief that somehow he can hear or sense the things she is doing.

Bruce’s reaction is outwardly logical and less emotional. He reads all the data about severe brain injury, listens to the doctors and is convinced that Scottie would not want to live with any degree of disability. He finds it even hard to look at his son surrounded by monitors and tubes.  It’s just not ‘his’ Scottie anymore.   However, it turns out that Bruce’s reaction is actually more complex. In fact, I would have liked to explore the story more from Bruce’s point of view because it is revealed later in the book there are things in his past that help to explain his reaction.

I won’t say any more about how things turn out for fear of spoilers but safe to say the emotional journey that Irene and Bruce go on is fraught with pain, hostility and unwelcome revelations. Things get said and done that may not easily be forgotten. I found myself empathising with both of them at different times and in different ways. However, this is also a story of hope, determination and undying love.

A couple of minor things in the story didn’t ring quite true for me. As respite from her vigil at Scottie’s bedside, Irene is persuaded to make a trip out with her sister-in-law, Red. I won’t say where they go or what they do while they’re there, but I just couldn’t imagine Irene doing that in the state she was in. A walk in the park or by the river, maybe, not that. This is only a minor niggle because otherwise the author managed to completely draw me into the story and convey at least an idea of the physical and emotional toll of being in a situation like this. Hopefully, it’s a situation few of us will ever have to face personally.

I received a review copy courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours in return for an honest review.

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In three words: Moving, emotional, compelling

Try something similar…Home by Kate Hughes (click here to read my review)


CharlotteRothAbout the Author

Charlotte says: Obviously, I love, love to write. Mostly about real people – how we feel, think, dream, and interact with each other. My characters are very relatable and I always fall in love with them as I follow them on their journey. I’m originally from Denmark but moved to the States ten years ago with my husband, a little chubby baby Alfred, and lots of hopes and dreams. We now live in Seattle and have added two more members to the family—the twincesses Emma and Olivia, and, oh well, Einstein, a tiny bearded dragon.  When I’m not “Mom,” I spend all my free time writing, re-writing, researching, reading, observing people, and making stories and characters in my head (and speak with them a little, too). My favorite spot is my local Starbucks, where my imagination runs wild – or works as a sponge soaking up whatever I encounter. The world is by far the greatest inspiration!

Connect with Charlotte

Website ǀ Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Goodreads

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