I was over the moon recently when Cathy Lamb contacted me in person and asked me to review her latest novel. When it arrived, I took in the cover and the title and thought that it sounded like a light, romantic work of typical chick lit. But she caught me out last time when I thought the same thing of her previous book, Henry's Sisters (which I reviewed here) so I came to this seemingly frivolous book expecting much deeper, darker, enthralling prose.
And I was quite right ! Like the wolf in sheep's clothing, this is a cracking, gripping read sneakily disguised as chick lit. In my last book review (that you can read here), for Oliver Harris's The Hollow Man, I complained that even as I turned the final page, I still felt I didn't know or understand the central character and his motivations at all so I couldn't really empathise with him or care about what happened to him. With Cathy Lamb, it's the total opposite. Within just a few pages, I was filled with sorrow, pride and a sense of moral righteousness as the scene played out of a young mother shooting dead three men in a courtroom so they couldn't get back out of prison and come after her Pink Girls. As a mum myself, I could so easily put myself in her place and really feel her pain.
But you will run through the entire emotional spectrum as you read this novel. I was incandescent with rage and revulsion as I read of the horrors inflicted on the two young girls by their horrifically sadistic abusers, but just a few pages later, I'd be smiling and laughing at the outrageous flirtatiousness of the adorable grandmother (who could have been best friends with the other grandmother in Henry's Sisters).
So much is understated or hidden behind guarded silences, leaving you to read between the lines and fill in the blanks, either as the girls reveal their horrific past, piece by piece, or in the seemingly strange mutterings and paintings of Grandma Madeline, losing her mind to Alzheimer's but never her love for her husband and granddaughters or her own private memories of pain.
This book reveals tales of utter horror and extreme suffering, on an individual but also on a wider historical level, which are hard to read but it is ultimately an empowering novel of hope and healing. The characters are pushed to breaking point and beyond, enduring things that no human being should ever have to bear, but they ultimately overcome the odds and find inner peace and acceptance.
I am not an overly sentimental person and rarely cry at things I read or watch on TV (apart from when I'm pregnant and my hormones are raging out of control, which, I hasten to add, is not the case now !), but Cathy Lamb has done it AGAIN and made me cry on the bus AGAIN ! Her writing will grab your heart and soul and refuse to let them go, even long after you've turned the final page. Some of the life lessons learned and the advice given in the novel will stay with me forever and really make me appreciate the life I have now. Read it and weep - literally !
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £7.99
Publisher: Allison & Busby (15 Oct 2011)
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