This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Cesca Major
Sitting on an East Coast train to Edinburgh surreptitiously trying to wipe the tears away, and failing. I have just closed the final pages of Charity Norman's latest book The Son-in-Law and am a mess. An excellent tag line to begin with had my interest piqued – can you forgive the unforgivable? The story put simply was this: Joseph Scott has just got out of prison for killing his wife. His three children don't want to see him again, his parents-in-law will do anything to protect them. So starts this gripping read.
The novel was a clever mix of the same events from different perspectives. Joseph, our anti-hero is a sympathetic character and we are rightly curious about the kind of 'man behind the murderer' label. His parents-in-law Hannah and Freddie are polar opposites. Hannah, who struggles to show affection, was a terrifying prospect for any son-in-law and was rightly struggling to move on from the death of her daughter. Freddie was the most delicious character – a man fascinated by the small details, touched by the commonplace, warm spirited, an absolute gentleman. The changes that his character undergo are profoundly moving and I loved this strand of the book. Joseph's dealings with his children – Scarlet, Theo and Ben are realistically drawn. Four year old Ben in particular is a lovely addition to the novel. A boy who has only known his grandmother as mother-figure has some wonderful moments of dialogue. It's heart-in-the-mouth stuff.
I enjoyed Charity Norman's last book After the Fall but, for me, The Son-in-Law has the edge. The premise is fascinating and the writing is as fluid and easy to read as you'd expect. What sets this book apart is the strength of the characters. Each individual is depicted with due attention and we can emphasise with a range of points of view. I found each voice distinctive and, as I alluded to at the start, became hugely invested in their separate stories.
An excellent read from Charity Norman – I'd definitely recommend it.
Charity Norman's Website