I love it when book publicists go the extra mile and I thought it was very clever to send out an umbrella along with my review copy of The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank. The novel is set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a region frequently on hurricane alert, and I'm pleased to say I'll be taking part in the #readcookeat challenge this month because there were actually some mentions of food !
The book focuses on a quirky but totally charming family - I fell in love with the slightly eccentric matriarch Maisie as soon as she appeared in the book, berating the policemen who pulled her over for walking a llama along the highway because there is no law forbidding it ! Maisie, along with her daughter Liz and grand-daughter Ashley, have a pretty close relationship, even if past hurt has been left unspoken like a festering wound that periodically puts their bond in jeopardy. They all have fun sides to their personalities and there were many episodes and comments that made me smile, but there is also a deeper undercurrent of emotional trauma, cheating husbands and abusive relationships that they all have to work through.
The chapters switch from voice to voice, with different characters - both male and female - taking centre stage as narrator to move the story forward , each putting their own spin on things. All of the characters, however likeable, are flawed, but this makes it easier to relate to them and ultimately empathise with them. The pivotal story - Ashley's dream-come-true turning into a nightmare-come-true - is actually quite predictable and I felt that the ending was a bit rushed - but it is told with great insight and understanding so it is still a very engaging and poignant read.
It will make you laugh, it might make you cry but above all it will make you think - about the domestic abuse going on in the real world behind closed doors, about the warning signs and character traits that make women an easy target and about what it is to be a woman, as wife, daughter and mother.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £7.99
Disclosure : I received the book from the publisher in order to write an honest review.