Laura Hamley has everything: a loving and successful husband, two children and an expensive home. But then she receives a phone call from the mother of a girl Laura bullied at school. As Laura is drawn into the past, she is forced to face the consequences of her cruelty. But, as her secrets are revealed, so too is an even more devastating truth....
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happy days are here again - or, maybe not
a woman contemplating reasons for divorce
Ms McMahon was excellent all round, it would be churlish to pick any one particular character
in the final analysis, boredom
I am not one of those admirable readers who read/listen to a book to the end, regardless. If I get anything more than whiff that I am not enjoying the book, gets binned. I listened this book to the end and did so without hesitation (oh, all right, a slight hesitation).
When I decided to write reviews I made a few rules for myself. The golden one was, no spoilers. This makes for a difficulty for me in reviewing this book because, to explain why two/three stars rather than my original inclination to give three/four star s would entail disclosing a spoiler.
Just about every character in the novel is unpleasant, not hugely so perhaps, but nonetheless, unpleasant. Those few who are not unpleasant compensate by leading unpleasant lives. The unpleasant attributes of the players are never leavened with some more positive strain of human behaviour, the misanthropy is total . This makes for depressing reading. The subject matter, bullying and the deliberate acts willingly undertaken in order to inflict misery on another person is a behaviour that, like death, diminishes us all.
Consequently, the combination of unlikeable characters wandering in and out of a glum narrative of distress demands a writing style that is clean and sharp in order to keep the reader engaged. This the writer does not achieve. The writing has real quality but there are puzzling positions... The main character tells us how attractive, physically attuned(for sport) and successful an all-round wife (if unhappy) and mother she is and yet, is simply baffled as to handle a life problem of no great dimension (at least for someone as gifted as she is) . As the novel proceeds, the writing softens with the accumulation damp padding, resulting in the burden becoming too great, and so it sags and is finally overwhelmed.
The quality of Ms MacMahon's reading, almost rescues the story; indeed ,for me, she kept it sufficiently alive to help convince me to stay with it to the end.
As to the spoiler conflict. If you write a tale in the first person in which the teller is also a character (in this case the main character) you are limited in your view of the novel's landscape. You are unable to reveal to the reader as to what Paul and Betty wossname get up to in bed every Wednesday afternoon because you weren't there and can't know.
Equally, if you are present during, actions/behaviours that effect the mind set of you, the teller of the tale, it is not credible for you the author, to conceal that knowledge from the reader simply to enhance the dramatic effect. You can't go through a novel as the first person character, constantly saying no-one loves you because you never give people big hugs and leave it at that until the last page, when you reveal that you lost both arms at the last battle of Ypres.