In some ways this was a fascinating read and it others, it dragged.
An ebook by established author, Amanda Prowse, the books follows two strands. First is the story of a couple on a boat off Bermuda whose son goes missing, the notion of ‘you may think you have everything but you can’t maintain it’ paralleled by the story of their housekeeper, CeeCee who has very little materially but also lost a child many years ago. That is largely portrayed through letters, though I have to admit to skim reading them. The reader does feel for the elderly CeeCee, for having lost her own child, she also loses the one in her care, a double whammy.
The letters, for me, are the problem. Losing a child is a immense sadness for any couple to deal with, one which most of us thankfully cannot begin to imagine. The parent grieve at different rates and in different ways; in all cases the relationship takes a major battering. In some cases, it ends, because grieving almost becomes a competition about who is doing it the most.
You find out who your friends are, that family is everything, and feel the inevitable guilt. Why wasn’t I there? Why didn’t I notice? Why us? I should have been a better parent? Why did I go out drinking gin with my friends leaving someone else to look after my child? And so on.
The prime story was powerfully, grippingly written. The parallel story portrayed through letters of a housekeeper pouring her heart out to her employer felt not only unlikely but seemed lazily done. So much better if there had been poignant dialogue, rather than letters laying out the backstory. Just my opinion, of course, as others will find the novel powerful, emotional stuff.
The parental grief was handled brilliantly though I am unsure about the ending. Be sure of one thing, life in Bristol feels more real than Bermuda! Heavy in character and low on plot, as the inciting incident happens very close to the beginning, to a child we have not met, I read it quickly, enjoying most of it, but with some skimming.
When I start skimming parts of a book, that is not a good sign for me as a reader. CeeCee’s story could have been told more succinctly, though her loss is no less than the protagonist’s. The oral tradition does not always relate well to words on a page, so it is more the device of using letters with which I quibble.
Worth a read in so many ways, bristling with emotion, but not one I’d rave about.