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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DOCTOR GLASS by Louise Worthington (@louiseworthington9) For those who like to dig deep into the workings of the mind (but notice the content warning) #psychologicalthriller

Hi all:

I bring you a book in a genre I read many books in. This is the first in a series, so if you like psychological thrillers, this might be for you. But it does come with a warning. Or several.

Doctor Glass A Psychological Thriller Novel by Louise Worthington

DOCTOR GLASS by Louise Worthington

THE DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU NOW.

Psychotherapist Emma-Jane Glass has prioritized work over leisure for far too long. She does whatever it takes to help her clients, and it’s bordering on professional obsession. When she publishes a controversial article about unstable mothers murdering their children, an anonymous letter arrives on her doorstep:

I will expose you.
Then, I will mutilate you…
Wait for me.

After she is abducted into the night, Doctor Glass finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous sociopath. But being a relentless doctor of the mind, she feels an urge to help her fragile captor, even if it might shatter her sanity—and her life. It becomes a game of survival, and only one mind can win.

For fans of deeply layered thrillers by Ruth Ware, Tana French, and Alex Michaelides comes the newest voice in psychological fiction.

CONTENT GUIDANCE: This novel explores aspects of psychology and mental health and contains depictions of self-harm, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and suicide. Please read with care.

 Link to the book:

Doctor Glass: A Psychological Thriller Novel

Link to the publisher’s website:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/

Author Louise Worthington

About the author:
Louise Worthington writes psychological fiction for fans of deeply layered thrillers by Ruth Ware, Tana French and Alex Michaelides. She has a passion for exploring the complexity and darker side of the human heart in tales imbued with strong emotional themes and atmospheric settings from poisonous gardens, medieval dungeons to an isolated property by the sea. Common themes are family, motherhood, making money from murder and revenge. 

She is the author of six novels, including Rachel’s Garden and The Entrepreneur, and the gothic horror, Rosie Shadow

 Author’s website:

https://louiseworthington.co.uk/

My review:

I thank Maria from TCK Publishing for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review. This novel had been published before, but this is a new revised edition.

I was intrigued by the premise of the novel (having worked in mental health, I am always interested in seeing how the subject is portrayed), and although the author has published a number of books before, this is the first time I read her work. This is intended to be the first in a series, and I suspect it won’t be the last one I read.

The book’s description offers enough clues as to the story’s content, and I don’t want to spoil it for any future readers by adding too many details. The content guidance also hints at some of the themes. This is a novel that deals with topics that many people might find upsetting or disturbing. Although this is not unusual with psychological thrillers, be warned that this novel is pretty open and honest in its depiction of extreme behaviours (self-harm, abusive relationships, murder/suicide, filicide, somewhat unusual sexual preferences, eating disorders, co-dependency…) and a variety of mental health problems (PTSD, pathological grief, personality disorder, Stockholm Syndrome…) This is not a sanitised version of any of those problems, and readers need to be aware of that. (I worked as a psychiatrist and have seen my share of things, although, thankfully, not everything that goes on in the book, and I didn’t find it disturbing, but I am not the standard reader, so do take the warnings seriously). Oh, I almost forgot to mention that there is a touch of the supernatural/paranormal as well.

I am always interested in the therapist in the novels featuring one, and Emma-Jane Glass is a woman totally dedicated to her work, who at first appears very professional and self-confident, but what she goes through makes her question much of what she thought was certain. Her experiences and thought processes, although extreme (I won’t mention suspension of disbelief, because we all know this is a novel, after all), rang true (not that I’ve ever met a therapist who regularly uses hypnosis in my professional capacity, but then I’ve always worked in hospitals, mostly for the NHS, so it might be more common in private practice), although I missed knowing more about her, where she came from, and her background. We only learn about her friendship with Lucy, who has an office next door and works as a nutritionist, and we also hear about her supervisor, Celia (whom we never meet until very close to the end), but there is nothing else of a personal nature. The story is narrated in the third person, mostly from Dr Glass’s point of view but not exclusively, although that does not help us understand who she is, beyond her professional identity and interest. (It does give us some interesting insights into the minds of some of the minor characters, though). This being a series, it is possible that those aspects will be developed in other books, but I missed that. Lucy is a likeable character, full of doubts and not as self-confident as Emma-Jane. We know about an important loss she suffered, and there are times when it feels as if her friend was living vicariously through her whilst trying to help her at the same time (as Dr Glass seems to be more involved in Lucy’s life than interested in having a private life of her own). I liked her, but I wasn’t sure the relationship between the two was sufficiently developed either.

I don’t want to go into too much detail talking about other characters. The main antagonist (whom I wouldn’t define as a standard baddie) does terrible things, but he has also gone through some soul-destroying suffering, and he is evidently very disturbed. Although his emotions and his most extreme behaviours come across as pretty realistic, there are elements of his characterization I wasn’t too sure about, but I don’t think anybody will feel indifferent about him. There are some other characters that make an appearance, and I was particularly moved by the story of one of Dr Glass’s patients, Vanessa, and her experience of grief. Some reviewers found the details about the sessions, both Dr Glass’s and Lucy’s, unnecessary, as they felt they detracted from the main story. Apart from my personal interest in the subject, I did think that the sessions help give us a better understanding of the thought processes of the protagonists, and also illustrate the kind of strain and pressures they are subject to, which go some way to explaining how they react at times. The rest of the characters are not fully developed, and there are a few things readers will be left wondering about, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The author writes beautifully, and there are lyrical passages, vibrant images, and masterful use of metaphors, which contrast with the darkness of some of the content while offering readers a reprieve and mirroring how the mind works, finding beauty in unexpected places and in extreme situations sometimes, as a self-defense mechanism and refuge. Some parts of the novel move at a faster pace than others, and, in general, the action picks up speed as the story develops, until almost the very end. There is an unexplained prologue, which many readers have complained about, and although it seems related to one of the topics that appear in the novel, it is not fully contained by it, and it made me wonder.

As usual, I recommend checking a sample of the novel if readers are not sure if it might suit their taste (making sure to heed the warnings first), but I thought I’d share a couple of examples of some of the content I’ve highlighted, to give you a small taste:

She finds the quietness of Vanessa’s sad smile moving, and she respects the way she wears her pain like glass: transparent, fragile. So brave, to not wear a brave face; to wear a real, feeling one.

 She watches a spider slowly crawl across the ceiling and onto the lampshade, sprinkling dust like dandruff. All that ceiling, all those walls, they’re like acres, countries, to a spider. Such freedom. Here she sits, trapped in a web. The spider’s unhurried movement stirs the mounting hysteria building inside her.

I have already mentioned that some things are left to readers’ imaginations, although the main story has an ending, and one pretty satisfying, at least for the main character. Considering the amount of time and detail dedicated to developing the story, I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but as this is a series, such things are likely to get balanced out in the future.

This is an enticing opening to a new series, one that promises to dig deep into psychological subjects, and if the characters keep growing, it will become even more compelling. I’d recommend it to readers looking for psychological thrillers that don’t mind digging deep into dark subjects, but please, make sure to check the content guidance.

Thanks to Maria, to the publishers, and to the author for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and especially, don’t forget to keep smiling and keep safe. 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog The School for Good Mothers: A Novel by Jessamine Chan (@jessaminechan) (@HutchHeinemann) Not an easy read, but one that will make you think about families and social control #TheSchoolforGoodMothers #NetGalley

Hi all:

I am not a mother, but recently I have read two books that shine a pretty special light on motherhood. You might remember my review for Chouette, and this one, although totally different, I think will also stay with me for a long time. And it has a fantastic title as well.

The School for Good Mothers: A Novel by Jessamine Chan

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick

In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.

Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.

A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.

 https://www.amazon.com/School-Good-Mothers-Novel-ebook/dp/B093JHS53T/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/School-Good-Mothers-Handmaids-century-ebook/dp/B09FGD85XB/

https://www.amazon.es/School-Good-Mothers-Novel-English-ebook/dp/B093JHS53T/

Author Jessamine Chan

About the author:

Jessamine Chan’s short stories have appeared in Tin House and Epoch. A former reviews editor at Publishers Weekly, she holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Brown University. Her work has received support from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Jentel, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the Anderson Center, VCCA, and Ragdale. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.

https://www.amazon.com/Jessamine-Chan/e/B092BKD9NX/

My review:

I thank NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, Hutchinson Heinemann for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

I heard a lot of comments about this novel, was intrigued by its subject, and I can honestly say this is a book that won’t leave anybody indifferent.

The author is well-known for her short stories, but this is her first novel, and as she explains in the author’s acknowledgments at the end of the book, she had been working on it for many years before it saw the light. It seems that it started as a short story, but at the recommendation of a writing mentor at a workshop, Chan felt encouraged to develop the concept. Readers who are interested in the writing process will enjoy reading the author’s note, as it gives a good sense of what inspired her, which writers influenced her, includes a bibliography for those interested in her sources, and it also gives an account of how many people play a part in the final product, from the author and her family to the institutions providing support of all kinds.

The description of the novel gives a reasonable overview of the plot, although I am not sure everybody who has read it would agree on the way the book is characterized in the last paragraph.

We have all heard stories of neglectful parents, and/or parents doing things that seem unthinkable, like kidnapping their children, harming them, or even killing them. I have often thought that in this day and age when one can hardly do anything without having “training” and holding “a certificate” (at least in most Western societies), it is amazing that one of the most difficult things to do, raising a child, requires no qualification and there is no supervision or education provided to ensure that young people of a certain age know, at least, the very basics. As if the author had read my mind, in this book, the authorities create a School for parents (yes, for the bad mothers of the title, but there is also an equivalent school for bad fathers, although with fewer students and much more lenient), and “dystopic” doesn’t quite make it justice. The action takes place in a world that sounds exactly like ours and in the present (or at least not in a particularly distant future) in the USA, and that increases its impact, because it is not that difficult to imagine something like this happening (although perhaps some of the details are a bit fanciful and stretch credibility slightly, but only slightly).

Frida, the main protagonist, does something that is definitely bad (I am not a mother, so I cannot speak with any inside knowledge, but I think it is understandable although I cannot imagine anybody would condone it), although not, by far, the worst thing we hear about in the novel, and she is not the most sympathetic of characters. And that is, perhaps, what makes it a particularly effective but tough book to read. Because it is very easy to feel sorry for a character who is tender-hearted, kind, and nice, and feel outraged for the way s/he is treated, but here, we not only meet Frida (whose story is narrated in the third person but from her limited point of view), but also some of her peers, and none of them are people most of us would want as friends in normal circumstances, especially once we learn about what landed them at the school. But Frida gets to care for them and we do as well, and we also feel their frustration, their pain, and their desperation. Those of you who are parents, imagine if everything you did when you were with your children (and even when you were not with them) was recorded: every word, every move, every gesture, every look… and all that evidence was judged in comparison to some perfect standard impossible to achieve (and most of the time, impossible to explain by the teachers and impossible to understand by the students).

Apart from motherhood (parenthood), issues such as identity, legacy, family expectations (grandparents, relatives…), cultural differences, prejudice, desire, temptation, mental illness, privacy, mono-parental households, single mothers, the difficult (almost impossible at times) balance between profession and personal life/ work and family life, and big questions like who gets to decide what is the best for a child, and how far can laws and society go to regulate certain aspects of our lives… This is a book of big ideas, and I am sure book clubs would find plenty to discuss here, although I suspect some readers will not feel comfortable reading it and might abandon it before the end.

I enjoyed the writing style, even though I am not a fan of the use of present tense (we follow Frida’s story, chronologically, for over a year, and this is narrated in the present, although there are memories and thoughts about the past or a possible future that also make an appearance), but it suited the tempo of the story, which follows the seasons and the school programme, and it progresses at a slow pace. (I am not sure “page-turner” is a good definition, at least not if it makes us think of non-stop action and a quick pace). One of the strong points of the novel is the way it describes the thoughts of the main protagonist, her doubts, her guilt, her second-guessing herself and others, and also the way it explores her feelings, her efforts to control herself, to be seen to be doing the right thing, however hard it might be (and still failing sometimes). Although the story is poignant and very hard, there are some lighter and witty (even bitchy) comments and moments that make us smile. Yes, I’m not ashamed to confess I cheered when Harriet, Frida’s daughter, bit the horrible social worker, and although I don’t think any fragment can do justice to the novel (and if you want to get a better idea of how well the book would fit your reading taste, I recommend checking a sample of it), I thought I’d share a few brief quotes:

Here, Frida is talking about Susanna, her husband’s new girlfriend:

The girl is on a mission to nice her to death. A war of attrition.

 Perhaps, instead of being monitored, a bad mother should be thrown into a ravine.

 Harriet is wearing a gray blouse and brown leggings, like a child of the apocalypse.

 What little she knows about the lives of saints comes back to her now and she thinks, this year, she might become holy.

 “A mother is a shark,” Ms. Russo says. “You’re always moving. Always learning. Always trying to better yourself.” (You’ve probably guessed that’s one of the members of staff at the school).

 The ending… I am not sure I’d say I liked it, but I think it fits the novel perfectly, and I cannot imagine any other ending that would work better. Readers seem very divided by it, and some felt it ruined the novel for them, while others loved it. It is open to interpretation, but I like to imagine that it shows Frida has learned a lot about herself and about being a mother in the school, but not perhaps the kind of lessons they had hoped to teach her.

 In sum, I enjoyed (although it is not the right descriptor, you know what I mean) this novel, and I am sure I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. I don’t think this is the kind of book to recommend to a young mother, or to somebody struggling with motherhood or thinking about it, but anybody interested in the subject of government control, education, parenthood, and keen on dystopic narrations should check it out. And I will be keeping an eye on the author’s career. I’d love to know what she writes next.

Thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this book, thanks to all of you for your continued support, and remember to keep on reading, smiling, and safe (as safe as we can all be these days, at least). 

 Check what the publishers did in London to celebrate the publication of the book:

 

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Closer than You Think (A Broken Minds Thriller) by Lee Maguire (@TCKPublishing) A solid first novel for lovers of psychological suspense and Basset Hounds

Hi, all:

Today I bring you the review of a book that I got sent quite a while ago but had been hiding from me. I’ve finally got around to it, and I hope to catch up on some more that I’m sure are also buried under my long list. Sorry! Better late than never, I hope!

Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire
Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire

Closer than You Think (A Broken Minds Thriller) by Lee Maguire

Meet Bryce Davison, a gifted psychologist who can heal any troubled mind—except his own.

You see, Bryce’s life is falling apart. His marriage is crumbling. His insomnia brings only half-sleep and troubled dreams—visions of dark and buried memories he’d rather forget or ignore completely. And the new female patient in his psych ward just might be more trouble than he’s able to cope with.

…and now he has a stalker.

Somebody’s been watching Bryce for a long time. Somebody who knows his life inside and out—his fears, his regrets, his greatest longings and deepest despairs. Somebody with access to his most private places—his workplace, his home, his family…anywhere Bryce might have felt safe.

They do their dirty work in the shadows… and they want Bryce Davison dead.

So Bryce has got to get his life together. To save his patients. To save his family. To save his marriage…and his life.

Because no matter how close Bryce gets to the deadly truth, the enigmatic stalker is always closer than he thinks.

Fans of psychological thrillers like I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll, Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine, and No Exit by Taylor Adams will love this book.

You will enjoy Closer Than You Think if you like:

  • Psychological thrillers
  • Psychological suspense
  • Cerebral mysteries

Here is the link of the book:

http://geni.us/closerthanyouthinkm

Amazon links:

https://www.amazon.com/Closer-Think-Broken-Minds-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07FZ9XFGF/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Closer-Think-Broken-Minds-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07FZ9XFGF/

https://www.amazon.es/Closer-Think-Broken-Minds-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07FZ9XFGF/

Lee Maguire
Lee Maguire (or his representative…)

About the author:

Lee Maguire grew up reading mysteries and thrillers. While he has continued to enjoy medical and legal thrillers, psychological suspense quickly became his preferred genre. Writing such a work became a passion.

Lee has practiced as a psychotherapist, behavioral health consultant, clinical supervisor, and graduate psychology instructor. His clinical experience meshes well with the activities of Doctor Bryce Davison, drawing the reader into the mind of the clinician.

Closer Than You Think is book one of the planned Broken Minds Thriller series featuring Doctor Bryce Davison. Additional information may be found at leemaguirebooks.com

https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Maguire/e/B07G2VJCB1/

Lee’s Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Bryce-Davison-Thriller-Series-1497309670567574/

My review:

Disclaimer: the publisher offered me a free ARC copy of this book. This this not affect my review.

In brief, this is a promising debut novel (in a planned series of psychological thrillers), narrated in the first person, with a solid stalker plot (clues, red-herrings and twists likely to make most readers of the genre happy), an interesting setting (a mental health treatment facility for troubled youths) and a good development of the main character (psychologist Bryce Davison, a man with an unsettled and traumatic past), and a wonderful Basset Hound. On the minus side, it could do with a tighter editing, more development of the secondary characters, and more attention to the pacing of the action.

This book will be especially appealing to those who enjoy psychological suspense, with particular emphasis on the “psychological” part. The author’s professional experience shines through, and that aspect of the novel is particularly well achieved, although it might seem overdetailed to people used to faster-paced thrillers.

The first-person point of view works well for the type of story, as it allows readers to share in the doubts and thoughts of the victim, experiencing his anxiety, reliving the trauma he experienced when he was young, and also trying to piece together the clues with him. On the other hand, the novel reads, at times, like a poorly focused memoir, with plenty of repetition of everyday living activities and chores that don’t help move the action forward and don’t add much to our understanding of the character. (There are so many times we can read about the character having a shower, the fact that his fridge is empty, or his switching or on off the computer). I’ve read novels that meander through stuff that does not seem particularly noteworthy, but the style of writing makes it impossible not to enjoy the detour. In this novel, neither the style of writing nor the genre are best suited for it. The other characters are not very well-developed, partly perhaps to do with the choice of point of view, and in some cases, like Bryce’s wife, that has the effect of making them appear inconsistent or totally at odds with the protagonist’s opinion of them.

The suspenseful plot and the way it builds up work well, although I agree with some of the reviewers that complain about the ending and the final explanation being too rushed. The story is not heavy on action or violence, although there is some, and the ending itself is satisfying.

As I said, this is a solid first novel that could be further improved by another round of editing, and I’d recommend it to people who prefer psychological suspense and who value plot over character building. Also recommended to Basset Hound lovers.

Thanks to the publisher and to the author, huge thanks to you all for reading, if you like it, share it and/or comment, and keep on smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty (@PenguinRandomUK) Recommended to wellness retreats enthusiasts with a sense of humour

Hi all.

I hope you’re enjoying the summer. Although this book takes place in January, that is Australian January, and somehow it feels like an appropriate read for summer.

Nince Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, book cover
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

THE SUNDAY TIMES NO. 1 BESTSELLER AND RICHARD & JUDY SPRING BOOK CLUB PICK, FROM THE AUTHOR BEHIND AWARD WINNING TV SERIES BIG LITTLE LIES.

Nine perfect strangers, each hiding an imperfect life.

A luxury retreat cut off from the outside world.

Ten days that promise to change your life.

But some promises – like some lives – are perfect lies . . .
__________

GUARDIAN BEST SUMMER READS

‘Fantastic’ Times

‘Original, suspenseful, downright brilliant’ Clare Mackintosh

‘The twist blew my mind’ Marian Keyes

‘A super-suspenseful page-turner’ Mail on Sunday

‘Will grip you from the first page’ Sunday Express

‘Captivating’ Good Housekeeping

‘Had me utterly hooked’ Daily Mail

https://www.amazon.com/Nine-Perfect-Strangers-bestselling-author-ebook/dp/B07C66F1N2/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nine-Perfect-Strangers-bestselling-author-ebook/dp/B07C66F1N2/

https://www.amazon.es/Nine-Perfect-Strangers-bestselling-author-ebook/dp/B07C66F1N2/

Author Liane Moriarty
Author Liane Moriarty

About the author:

Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of seven internationally best-selling novels: Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers: The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty. Her books have been translated into over forty languages and read by more than 14 million people worldwide.

Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty both debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list – the first time this has been achieved by an Australian. Big Little Lies was adapted into a multiple award-winning HBO series starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who have also optioned the film rights for Truly Madly Guilty. Truly Madly Guilty has sold over 1 million copies in the US alone.

Her new novel, Nine Perfect Strangers is due for release in November 2018.

Liane lives in Sydney, Australia, together with her husband, son, daughter and Labrador. You can find out more at www.lianemoriarty.com and www.facebook.com/LianeMoriartyAuthor

https://www.amazon.com/Liane-Moriarty/e/B00459IA54/

My review:

I thank NetGalley and the publisher (Michael Joseph UK) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I’ve read and reviewed two novels by Moriarty, Little Big Lies and Truly, Madly, Guilty (you can read my reviews here and here), quite different but enjoyable. The first one is funnier, sharper, wittier, and flashier than the other, which is more intense, focuses around a single event and its consequences (although that is a structure the author comes back time and again), the characters are less extreme, glamorous, bubbly, and more evidently damaged and vulnerable. Secrets and lies are a common occurrence, and the difference between appearances and reality and the games people play are present in both. There are similarities in some of the themes and subjects in both novels, and these are also evident in Nine Perfect Strangers, which, in my opinion, sits somewhere in between with regards to the tone and the subject matter. The high quality of the writing is also a constant in the three books.

We have a fairly large cast of characters, seemingly unrelated and contrasting in their beliefs and attitudes to life (although not particularly diverse), composed by the guests (or clients) at an Australian wellness retreat, and the staff members. The guests are: a family of three (Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe, their daughter, whose 21st birthday is due during their stay at Tranquillum House, all still struggling with a big loss in their lives); a young couple, Jessica and Ben, who won the lottery and now are rich beyond their wildest dreams but not necessarily happier; a romance writer who hasn’t moved with the times (Frances); Tony, and ex-footballer (Australian football) who used to be known as Smiley but seems to find it difficult to find his place in the world now, Lars, a divorce lawyer living happily (?) with a long-term male partner but afraid to commit too much (no children); and Carmel, a divorced mother obsessed by her weight and lacking in self-confidence. The staff members are Masha, Yao, and Delilah. Masha, who used to hold a high-powered corporate position, has rediscovered herself as a wellness guru. Delilah used to be her PA in her previous incarnation and has come along for the ride, and Yao, formerly a paramedic, met Masha in interesting circumstances and is convinced by her programme and devoted to her. At first, this mishmash of characters seem straight out of a joke book, and they appear as caricatures, but through their “therapy” we get to know them as fully fledged individuals and get to empathise with them. There are parallels between them, perhaps inevitably. All of them are struggling with changes in their lives, due to age, to personal tragedies, to external events, and have difficulty coming to terms with those and moving on. Some of the characters are better drawn than others although none of them are true evil, they all (or most) have their moments of clarity and stardom, and I think most readers are likely to find somebody to connect with.

The story is told in the third person from most of the characters’ points of views, although some get more space than others (Frances, Masha, Yao, for example have a great deal to say), but this varies as the story evolves, and this technique helps readers get into the thick of things. There is a fairly dramatic prologue, which takes place ten years before the rest of the action and at first appears unrelated, but is not. After the main action of the novel ends (this somewhat “false” ending is cathartic but not quite as dramatic as the reveals in the two other novels), we have a number of chapters that follow the characters (some of them) for a period afterwards, providing a protracted ending that I really enjoyed and thought suited the story well. (One of the problem with therapies is that sometimes we don’t get a long-enough follow-up to see how effective they are long-term. This is not the case here).

I won’t go into detail about the actual therapy the guests engage in, as I want to avoid spoilers. Let’s say some of the elements will be familiar to people who have ever undertaken (or even read about) a retreat, but there are some pretty big surprises, and things turn pretty dark too, although people who prefer their novels free from major violence and blood are on safe ground here. That does not mean that there are no serious subjects at the heart of the novel (loss and suicide feature heavily, as does drug use, growing older… and there are major questions asked, such as: what defines who we are, how much value we place in those around us and our relationships with them, our role in society versus our own interests…), but there are moments of mirth and hilarity (many down to Frances, who made me think of the heroin of a chick-lit novel growing older disgracefully, as should be), and despite the difficult moments all the characters go through, this is not a challenging reading experience, and there are no great insights or revelations bound to make any readers feel enlightened or keep them thinking for ages once they finish the novel. It’s true that all the characters learn something by the end, but, if there is a serious message in this novel is that there are no quick-fixes or shortcuts to solving one’s problems, and we have to keep working at it day after day. But you might come to a different conclusion if you read it.

A few quotes from the book:

So I called reception and asked for a lower, cloudier, more comfortable sky. (Frances, describing how she felt contemplating the sky that day).

Sol was a real man who didn’t like adjectives or throw cushions.

She sucked in her stomach, ready to take it like a man, or at least like a romance novelist capable of reading her own royalty statements. (This is dedicated to all fellow authors).

In sum, I enjoyed the novel, although it is not my favourite work by the Moriarty. It has light touches and funny moments, some serious ones, pretty memorable characters, some ominous and dark undertones, it is easy to read, well-written engaging and entertaining. Another Australian author whose books I eagerly await.

Thanks to the publishers and the authors, special thanks to all of you for writing, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling!

 

 

 

Categories
Book launch book promo FREE

#FREE #YA story for only two days (29th and 30th) WE ARE FAMILY. Neighbours, prejudice, friendships, small-town and love.

Hi all:

Sorry to crowd you all with so many posts but I’ve been having a few funny days, with travelling, trying to sort out the house, and a job offer that might mean (if it comes to pass) that I’ll have to take a bit of time off, at least initially from being everywhere. In the middle of this maelstrom and because one has to try everything, I suddenly decided to publish one of my stories that had done well in Wattpad but I never seriously thought about publishing it anywhere else. As I didn’t have a lot of time and I wanted to do a bit of a test, at the moment it’s only available in Amazon and will be available in Unlimited too, at least for 90 days (I’ve never had any luck with that, but). I decided to try a different persona too, and to offer it free for a couple of days (29th and 30th of July, although you know Amazon days are West Coast days, so do check later if not free when you try). So if you know somebody who might be interested in a YA story with quirky characters, friendship, romance and some emotional ups and downs…

 

We Are Family by Misty Pink (yes, me)
We Are Family by Misty Pink (yes, me)

 

Description:

Meet the Waltons. They arrive to Leamington, a sleepy town, and cause chaos and outrage. They are ‘weird’. According to some they are scandalous and indecent. But if you let them, they might steal your heart.

We Are Family. A Young Adult story of friendship, families and how you don’t always have to go far to find love.

Kim, a young girl, sees her quiet existence shaken by the arrival of the new neighbours, the Waltons, a family of hippy travellers whose lifestyle creates conflict and tensions in Leamington. Accusations of rape, teenage pregnancy, adultery, suicide…the newcomers pay a heavy price for daring to intrude in the ordered lives of the inhabitants of Leamington. But not all is bad, and Kim’s life is transformed for the better. Forever. Oh, yes, and she finds romance and love.

Link:

 relinks.me/B01J6RPB2Y

Thanks to all of you for reading, and don’t feel obliged to download and read, but if you know of anybody who might enjoy it, especially readers who like YA stories or YA readers, I’d be grateful for any shares, comments and CLICKS! I’ll keep you posted on my news and also on this experiment. 

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