Reviewed by Kay Brooks
has spent the last eleven years of her life being a mother, a role that she
feels less than adequate at, especially when compared to her openly loving
husband, JP. During the time since her daughter, Kate, was born, she seems to
have lost something of herself and doesn’t know how to go about getting it
back. When her former lover appears in her life, having become a seemingly
charismatic, successful artist, Sylvia realises what she has given up and
spirals into despair, coming close to destroying her own family.
cover of the novel is aesthetically pleasing, I found that after reading the
blurb, I wasn’t looking forward to reading about Sylvia Larkin. For me, the
blurb reveals too much about what is going to happen. It tells the prospective
reader that Sylvia is going to try and repair the damage caused to her family
by her breakdown. It would have been interesting as an active reader to
contemplate the different routes that she might take. There was no reason to
question what attributes her former lover had or memories they had made
together that might make her returning to him a viable option because the blurb
told me she wasn’t going to. To add to this negative first impression, the
blurb suggested that the novel was going to be depressing.
surprise, I really enjoyed the novel and soon found myself unable to put it
down without finding out what was going to be revealed next. Despite the
overly- informative blurb, there were plenty of twists, turns and discoveries
to be experienced. The imagery is evocative throughout and incredibly symbolic
of Sylvia’s thoughts and feelings. At times the imagery could be confusing and
required consideration but it was worth the effort.
of Ireland was beautifully depicted, with bleak but glorious landscapes. The
melodic Irish twang was clear in the dialogue. The characters were real, earthy
and believable. Sylvia’s mother was the typical Irish matriarch, concealing her
own heartache whilst trying to shield her children from their own.
relationship between Sylvia and her daughter, Kate, is intriguing. At only
eleven, Kate seems so insightful but is really just seeing the obvious where
her mother chooses to ignore it. Her innocent way of contemplating adult events
with the naive mind of a child is endearing.
The story is
told from the perspective of Sylvia who is compelling and far from what I
expected. Many of the events and issues explored are upsetting but they are
explored in a manner that makes them thought-provoking and relatable. For women
who have suffered from post-natal depression this could make for life-changing
reading. Sylvia shows how even the most broken of women can deal with the guilt
for not having the ‘normal’ feelings of elation in response to motherhood and
can find a path to recovery.
which I won’t give away, was uplifting and seemed to come all too soon!