Post Script: A Single Breath- Amanda Apthorpe

A Single Breath

A Single Breath
Amanda Apthorpe
Atlas Productions
ISBN: 9780994182296

Description:
When the first hate letter arrives in the days after her patient, Bonnie’s death, obstetrician Doctor Dana Cavanagh reads it with shaking hands before placing it next to the small news article of the court’s verdict: not guilty.

Hate letters continue to trickle in, but one stands out from the others—a cryptic message with a tiny marble stone, its origin—Kos, Greece, the birthplace of Hippocrates. She had once proudly sworn his oath, “I will give not deadly medicine.”

Accompanied by her sister Madeleine, Dana follows the mystery of the letter to Kos. The arrival of two more letters, and the strange appearances of a woman, beckon her to Italy and England. Despairing for her sanity, Dana persists in her crusade to come to terms with being implicated in the death of another.

 

My View:
Some great analogies and references to mythology surrounding women, women as nurturers, women in nature, as creators, healers, women and giving birth etc mashed up with a little bit of mystery and spiritualism. This book is quite an interesting read but not quite the full on mystery I was expecting. More a book about self-awareness, self-discovery, blame, grief and coming to terms with the circle of life.
Some beautifully written passages and reflections on life/death and birth/re birth.

There is a very feminist tone to this narrative – women as supporters, healers and nurturers reclaiming the medicalization by men of women’s bodies, in particularly the process of birthing.

An interesting read.

Post Script- The Light On The Water – Olga Lorenzo

Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

The Light on the Water

The Light On the Water
Olga Lorenzo
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781925266542

Description:
A little girl disappears in the wilderness. Two years later her mother is arrested for her murder. A provocative and unflinching literary novel of love, guilt and grief set against the wilderness of the Australian coast.

Anne Forster, recently divorced and trying to find her feet, takes her daughter Aida on an overnight bushwalk in the moody wilderness of Wilson’s Promontory. Aida, who is six and autistic, disappears; Anne returns from the walk alone. Some of the emergency trackers searching for Aida already doubt Anne’s story.

Nearly two years later and still tormented by remorse and grief, Anne is charged with her daughter’s murder. Witnesses have come forward, offering evidence which points to her guilt. She is stalked by the media and shunned by friends, former colleagues and neighbours.

On bail and awaiting trial, Anne works to reconstruct her last hours with Aida. She remembers the sun high in the sky, the bush noisy with insects, and her own anxiety, seemingly as oppressive as the heat haze.

A superbly written and conceived literary work about the best and the worst aspects of family life, this story asks difficult questions about society, the media, and our rush to judgment. This is a thoughtful, provocative and unflinching novel in the tradition of Helen Garner, Joan London and Charlotte Wood, from a respected writer and renowned teacher of writing.

 
My View:
Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

At first I could hardly bear to continue reading, the pain that Anne feels and the pressure she faces is almost too much to bear. These are powerful pages, tension is high, my empathy freely given. Anne’s story is just so so sad. We can feel her love for her children and the pressure that mothers face when in the public eye, always judged – judged by appearance, behaviour, attitudes, judged by the behaviours of our children, deemed responsible for the behaviours of our children. So much pressure. The media then adds its own high dose of judgment. Too often we forget to ask – what is the point of this article, whose opinion is this and what are they trying to achieve; once words have been printed, read or spoken, they cannot be taken back.

Family and relationships are reflected upon. Motherhood is exposed – the good and the bad. This narrative is not afraid to ask the difficult questions about relationships; to probe and prick our collective and individual consciousness. Family violence is aired, almost normalised – are you upset by this – I hope so, I think that is the authors intent and to show that cycles don’t have to be repeated.

Power/powerlessness is also a theme of this narrative. Institutionalized power, in our courts, policing, schools, legal system, prisons, detention centres; the power imbalance and the dehumanising ways we treat people involved in such systems is shocking as are the judgements we are passively making within these systems. It seems like everyone is considered guilty, of… something, anything, before an individual has even had a fair hearing. Social media and online bullying reflects this attitude; so much anger, so much entitlement to anger is a worrying thing. We are all too quick to judge, to make assumptions, what ever happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? Trial by media, all forms of media, is bought into question here.

This narrative explores so much of the ugly side of society but is not without some redemptive features/characters. Sandra gives us all hope. Sandra is open, loving and accepting. We need more Sandra’s. We need more friends like Linda to support us.

A wonderful exploration of grief, blame, judgements, the meaning of motherhood, of family, identity, marriage, responsibility, relationships, power and survival and love. Such power in the written words – your heart will be pierced by their thorns.

Post Script: Broken Threads – Maggie Christensen

 Broken Threads

Broken Threads

Maggie Christensen

Cala Publishing

ASIN: B016R3UIIM

 

Description:

Jan Turnbull’s life takes a sharp turn towards chaos the instant her eldest son, Simon takes a tumble in the surf and loses his life.

 

Blame competes with grief and Jan’s husband turns against her. She finds herself ousted from the family home and separated from their remaining son, Andy.

 

As Jan tries to cope with her grief and prepares to build a new life, it soon becomes known that Simon has left behind a bombshell, and her younger son seeks ways of compensating for his loss, leading to further issues for her to deal with.

 

Can Jan hold it all together and save her marriage and her family?

 

 

 

 

My View:

A great family drama full of situations no parent would ever want to be in. Guilt, blame, denial, grief; all emotions are explored and laid bare, I don’t doubt that some will require a box of tissues to the ready.

 

All the characters are well developed – except maybe the husband Graham. Mostly I found him cold, unsupportive, self-centred and old fashioned in his thinking and behaviour. I didn’t like him at all and was therefore disappointed with the rather neatly sewn up ending; writing that inspires a reader to form such strong opinions of a character is pretty impressive!

 

Post Script: Leap – Myfanwy Jones

Cover Leap

Leap

Myfanwy Jones

Samuel Johnson (Narrator)

Audible Studios

Allen & Unwin

ASIN: B010OO7VIK

Description:

A few weeks after finishing their final exams high school sweethearts have an argument at a party. Joe wants to go – Jen begs him to stay. They fight in the corridor, following their usual script, and then he walks out and leaves her. A few hours later she dies.

 

Three years on, after burning up his own dreams for the future, Joe is working in dead-end jobs and mentoring a wayward teenager not dissimilar from his younger self. Driven by the need to make good, he spends all his spare time doing parkour under an inner-city bridge, training his mind and body to conquer the hostile urban environment that took his love and blighted his future.

 

Somewhere else, a middle-aged woman, Elise, is treading water in her life as her marriage breaks up. We watch as she retreats to the only place that holds any meaning for her – the tiger enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, where, for reasons she barely understands, she starts painting the tigers and forms a close connection to them.

 

Joe is broken by grief, but the outside world won’t let him hide forever. A cool and bewitching girl turns up on the doorstep of his share house, somehow painfully familiar to him. Then there is the skateboarding chef at the bar where he works, the girl with the Cossack-blue eyes, who wants to be his friend. And someone going by the Facebook tag Emily Dickinson wants to reminisce about his dead girlfriend and won’t leave him alone.

 

Can Joe staunch the flooding return of desire – or is it time to let go of the past? And will he make the nine-foot leap from girder to pillar or does he want to fall too?

 

While at its heart is a searing absence, Leap is driven by an unstoppable and exhilarating life force, and the eternally hopeful promise of redemptive love. Funny, moving, quirky and original, Leap is an effortlessly enjoyable novel that quietly creeps up on you until its final jaw-dropping pages and a narrative twist that will take your breath away.

 

My View:

Myfanwy Jones writes this narrative with finesse and gentleness, Samuel Johnson narrates this engaging story of love, friendship, loss and grief with aplomb. It was pure pleasure listening to this story; the prose was lyrical, the images of the zoo and the tiger enclosure were mesmerising and the stories in the individual character strands were interesting and worked well together to complete a picture of how we react to loss – of identity, loss of physical capacity, loss of romantic love, loss of a child, loss of a relationship. There was even a hint of mystery thrown in for good measure – and I was surprised when the mystery was revealed – I did not pick up any clues to this reveal.

Buy the book or listen to the audio version – you will slowly and gently be guided into this story that ends with a note of optimism.

 

Post Script: Little Black Lies- Sharon Bolton

Atmospheric, fantastic word visuals, contemporary issues and a mystery to solve- what a great read!

Cover Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies

Sharon Bolton

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers 

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593069202

 

Description:

 

What’s the worst thing your best friend could do to you?

 

Admittedly, it wasn’t murder. A moment’s carelessness, a tragic accident – and two children are dead. Yours.

 

Living in a small island community, you can’t escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you’ve lost – your family, your future, your sanity.

 

How long before revenge becomes irresistible?

 

With no reason to go on living, why shouldn’t you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds?

 

So now, what’s the worst thing you can do to your best friend?

 

 

My View:

This was a great read – there is so much packed into this one narrative; it is evocative, the sense of dread and foreboding vibrates of the page. The scenes with the whales (no spoilers here) just so dark and sad and painful – it tears large wounds in your heart. Grief, despair, depression and post-traumatic stress provide the back beat to this black tune. What a powerful story!

 

 Then there is the mystery and disappearance of several young children and a mother’s passion for vengeance. Read and enjoy and maybe like me just be for the reveal you may guess the culprit.

 

Post Script: The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

The Shut Eye

The Shut Eye

Belinda Bauer

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593072875

 

Description:

 

Bauer’s great gift is her ability to surprise the reader’ Sunday Telegraph

 

Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

 

And now they are all his mother has left.

 

Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.

 

When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn’t? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son…

 

But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?

 

Or is he something far, far worse?

 

My View: 

Brilliant.   Amazing.  Incredible.  Delightful.  Haunting.  Evocative.  Engaging.  Surprising.

Have you got the hint? I loved this book! Superb writing, wonderful complex narrative, a hint of dark humour, exceptionally moving characters… psychics, love, death and a mania of blue and circles I could feel and see myself!! This must be one of the most outstanding reads I have come across. The last thing I will say about this read is don’t just take my word for it – read this yourself – YOU MUST READ IT.

 

 

 

Post Script: All My Puny Sorrows – Miriam Towes

A breath taking account of love and loss and grief and relationships told with heartbreaking honesty.

All My Puny Sorrows

Miriam Toews

Faber and Faber Ltd

Faber & Faber

ISBN: 9780571305285

 

Description

 

A funny, serious and heart felt new novel about the biggest question of all.

 

Yolanda is conflicted. Her sister Elf has battled depression for her whole adult life, and is in a psychiatric ward under permanent observation after attempting suicide – again.

 

Yolanda has always looked up to Elf as her talented and beautiful older sister. She loves her with a fierce passion and wants to believe in the possibility of a future together, one in which Elf gets better. But it’s looking unlikely and Yolanda has to decide; if the person you love is tired of living, is it kinder just to let them go?

 

All My Puny Sorrows (a line from a Coleridge poem) is written out of Miriam Toews’s personal experience and is, in some ways, a grown-up version of A Complicated Kindness, the novel that catapulted Toews to her bestselling status in Canada. This story allows Toews’s beguiling narrative voice – her easy, snappy, darkly comic intimacy – to sing through.

 

 

My View:

 

Raw, this book has left me feeling raw, my emotions exposed and jagged. A stunning read of momentous importance – never have I read this side of the story of depression and mental pain told so truthfully and meaningfully; told with so much realism. The conversations reflective of real feeling and passions, of real not imagined hurt and pain. The pain of depression is eloquently exposed, the flesh teased back, the nerves exposed. Such love and such wonderful memories are shared with the reader, this author has guts.  I admire her words, her ability to succinctly express the gamut of feelings we all feel, we all hide, we sometimes share. And the telling feels so personal, a conversation just between you and me; you touch my heart and my soul and my own buried grief. I send you hugs.

 

Everyone should read this book.

Post Script: Surrounded By Water – Stephanie Butland

A remarkably moving read – this review written with silent tears running down my face. I am holding in the sobs.

Surrounded by Water

Stephanie Butland

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593071557

 

Description:

Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.

 

How typical of her kind, generous husband – a respected police officer – to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s.

 

Or so she thinks.

 

What exactly was her husband doing at the lake that night? And what if his death isn’t the most difficult thing she will have to deal with?

 

Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband’s actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike’s life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.

 

My View:

 A remarkably moving read – this review written with silent tears running down my face. I am holding in the sobs.

A book that makes you really feel is unique and wonderful, a book that makes you cry is a gift to be treasured – this is such a book! I loved the way the author has the protagonist write letters to her dead husband…the letters are so moving, poignant and achingly sad and yet at the same time  share with the reader the wonder and marvel of  a true lasting love.

 

However there is an undercurrent of suspicion delicately woven into this narrative – just what was her husband up to on that fateful night and begs the question did he actually know this stranger he died to save? The mystery gently gnaws at your subconscious as you continue reading. This is a wonderful portrait of love, loss, grief and… infertility – I don’t think I have come across grief and grieving so authentically revealed – or love for that matter. The author gives her characters such great voices – I loved listening to them.

 

 

 

Post Script: Enon – Paul Harding

Enon, Paul Harding

Paul Harding

Enon

Random House

ISBN: 9781400069439

 

Description:

The next novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers, in which a father’s grief over the loss of his daughter threatens to derail his life.

Powerful, brilliantly written, and deeply moving Paul Harding has, in Enon, written a worthy successor to Tinkers, a debut which John Freeman on NPR called “a masterpiece.” Drawn always to the rich landscape of his character’s inner lives, here, through the first person narrative of Charlie Crosby (grandson to George Crosby of Tinkers), Harding creates a devastating portrait of a father trying desperately to come to terms with family loss.

My View:

“I was walking in the woods, when Kate died,” and so with this profoundly sad introduction we are drawn into a story of a father imploding with grief and despair after his daughter dies in an accident.  This is a beautifully written stream of consciousness/internal monologue of grief, impending madness and drug addiction that will haunt your thoughts and prick your emotions.

Harding pens a visually rich landscape of settings and emotions as we join Charlie Crosby on his trip down memory lane as he recounts and sometimes hallucinates about past times spent with his daughter and his family juxtaposed against the images of his spiral into a drug induced state of numbness. He slowly shuts down and isolates himself with only his grief as a companion. This narrative is tragic and haunting yet there are moments of absolute joy and love when Crosby reminisces about times spent with his daughter;  their love shines like a beacon during the recollection of ordinary every day events – such as feeding the birds, taking a walk together, playing board games…having an ice-cream…

Harding writes beautiful prose. He writes wonderfully powerful emotive descriptions of the everyday… and of Crosby’s rapid descent into drug dependency and total despair as he attempts to deal with his grief and loss. This is a book that will engage the full spectrum of your emotions, it will take you to a place no parent ever wishes to go. A great read.