I picked up this book after discovering that the heroine is a young woman – an only child – who lost her mother to cancer at the age of 11. A friend of mine had just died, leaving a daughter of the same age, and a son a couple of years older, and I wanted to read something that would be thoughtful and consoling without being a self-help or bereavement counselling book.
With an 11 year old daughter myself, my only child, who has a chronic health condition (Type 1 diabetes) requiring daily support from me, I sometimes fear what would happen to her if I were hit by a bus, so I had an immediate connection with the theme.
Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down and read it in the space of a busy weekend, immediately caught up in the plight of the gentle, unselfpitying, sensible and fair-minded heroine as she tried to make sense of her subsequent life. The portrayal of all the characters, including the widowed father (I’ve been widowed too), was realistic and thoughtful. I could easily picture myself in her footsteps as she went through school and university and into adulthood.
The book doesn’t preach or propose ways of coping – it simply provides a portrait of a girl handling what life deals her to the best of her ability, and finding her own route to peace and comfort, which is neither the cliched nor predictable. It doesn’t underestimate the need for strength of character required to endure bereavement, nor does it idealise the circumstances or the outcome, but it did for me at least provide a comforting feeling that the girl’s mother and the values and love that she instilled in her remain with her lifelong and give her strength.
All in all, a touching and memorable book, and I’m looking forward to reading Katharine E Smith’s other novel, Writing the Town Read. May there be many more!
A good book for anyone interested in the family dynamics in bereaved and blended families, and for anyone who loves St Ives, which features strongly towards the end of the novel. That beautiful cover also makes it a very acceptable gift for any mother or daughter, and combined with the promise of spring in the cherry blossom on the cover (a recurring image in the book), it’s a great Mother’s Day gift, provided that you don’t think your mother would be upset that the mother in the novel dies early on! (That part is done very sensitively, by the way, and the mother is very likeable, dignified and respected.)
For more information about the author, visit the author page on her publisher’s website.
If you have a bookshop in your neighbourhood, please support it by ordering your copy from there.
Otherwise you can buy it from the usual online suspects including Amazon UK and Amazon US.