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I was so impressed with this story. The writer, Graham Joyce, brings his characters to life in such a realistic, believable way; the interactions between the family members, the tone and text of the dialogue... as I listened I was really taken with how true and life-like these people were.
The novel weaves several different narratives together beautifully, and we circle through them smoothly throughout the book. We alternate between the present, as Tara returns after her 20 year absence and tries to join the world again. In this thread, we look at how her disappearance and homecoming affect her brother, ex-boyfriend, her parents, and Tara herself as she works to rebuild both her life and her relationships. At her brother's urging, she agrees to see a psychiatrist, and the scenes and conversations between Tara and this doctor are facinating.
Another thread takes us back to the time when Tara first went missing. We see how this impacted her boyfriend (who was also her brother's best friend) as he is suspected of having murdered her. We see the loss he feels as the people he considered to be his second family (Tara's family) pull away from him, as their faith in his innocence slowly crumbles.
The third thread addresses Tara's time away from her point of view; the incidents surrounding her initial disappearance, and what her experiences were during this time away.
Finally, peppered within the other rotating threads, there are short moments where we are read excerpts of a trial transcript from a court case in the 1800's, regarding a woman's death at the hands of her husband and family, who believed her to be a fairy posing as the real woman.
This is a fantastic work of literary fiction. While there are aspects that deal with the possible existence of a parallel, mystical world, that is not what this story is about. It's about loss, regret, love, and sacrifice. At it's core, it's a story about family.
Be aware that there is some language and a few very brief references of having witnessed some sexual situations.
*Technical Issue: As of 7/11/2012: There are a few brief glitches in the recording near the beginning of the second file. They do not result in the loss of text, with the exception of about one word. They are minor and did not affect my experience in any significant way. I did report the bug to audible, and have received a confirmation that they anticipate having a corrected file in about the next 2 weeks. At that time, you can choose to re-download the second file (without these glitches) from your library, if you like. Personally, I did not find the issue to be anything that would cause me to postpone getting this book. Download away!
43 of 45 people found this review helpful
I just finished listening to this book – twice. I was very impressed at how I was transported to this town in ‘anywhere’ where a loved one has mysteriously disappeared for 20 years and mysteriously returned - and this family’s story of loss, regret, and love.
I don’t think John Lee was the best narrator selection for this book; it could have been so much better without his histrionic tones – I completely felt like I was listening to “Pillars of the Earth” or any other Ken Follet novel, at the beginning – eventually I was absorbed enough to get over it.
The family and ‘past’ love was at the heart of this story and so completely felt and expressed that it is difficult for me to convey. Tara Martin’s parents and brother’s horror, dismay, then acceptance of her probable death; her lover’s horrific treatment by the police and complete acceptance of responsibility and life altering despair of what may have happened to her - were the theme of their existence before Tara’s return.
I was not expecting the explanation of her disappearance for 20 years – it didn’t take long to start in the novel. Her explanation is hard to take as reality for the family and loved ones, but hard to discount – for reasons I won’t say. Her return to the family and past love is so real; the important people that need to believe just want something they CAN believe, and the one who does not matter believes her and gives her a path forward.
It is some kind of fairy tale – a very different one than I have ever understood. It was interesting - at the beginning of nearly every chapter there were quotes from famous historical authors/people about fairy tales. Some put a bit of perspective, some I will have to listen again to see. Then there were the psychologist’s point of view which I found bothering, humorous, and disturbing.
I highly recommend this book. This is a fantastic work of literary fiction. It is worth the listen on so many levels. It is not depressing, it is somewhat uplifting – if there were just one more chapter it would have made me feel better, but that is not always the goal.
Worth the credit and I will listen again.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful