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A Review of Three Fiction Books, all on the Theme of Family

A Review of Three Fiction Books, all on the Theme of Family
Three Book Reviews written by Anne Rogers

The first book is Murder, Forgotten. I was completely hooked by the premise of this book before I’d even opened it. Julianna Burke is an internationally successful mystery novelist in the twilight of her career. Struggling with her failing memory, her life is further devastated by the murder of her husband Connor. The ebbs and flows of her memory mean that she often wakes up not realising he’s dead, and has to be told again, recurrently reliving the distress the news brings. Julianna is desperate to find out what has happened, and so is her daughter Logan. But finding out the truth when you can’t trust what you remember is going to be tough.

When I started reading, I wasn’t disappointed. There are lots of twists and turns, right from the beginning when Julianna has travelled to Scotland. There were some elements which I guessed long before the end, but the clever storytelling means that most readers will find plenty of ‘gasp’ moments to enjoy. The mystery isn’t only confined to Julianna and Connor. There are multiple uncertainties and secrets, and under it all runs the theme of loss and grief, but without it becoming a depressing read. Highly recommended.

 

The Promised Land is also announced as a novel of loss and discovery but is a very different kind of story to Murder, Forgotten. Abbie Jowett is a hyper-energetic person who likes to be in control to the point where it is suffocating her husband and sons. When her oldest son says he is taking a gap year in Europe, and her husband announces that he is ‘taking a break’ and leaves for Chicago, Abbie needs to work out what to do, now left alone in her smart new apartment.

She makes the decision to follow her son Bobby to walk the Camino de Santiago, and heads to Europe. Bobby is initially very unenthusiastic about his mother’s pending arrival, but the Camino is going to be a place of change for both of them, as well as for the people they meet along the way.

This is another beautifully told story from Elizabeth Musser. Abbie is a complex person whose nature grew from neat and organising into ever more controlling behaviour as a result of events in her past. Her transformative experience on the Camino is believably written – and I wonder how many readers will be mentally shouting at her at points along the way! Bobby, meanwhile, is finding his gap year is bringing pressures of increasing responsibility rather than the escape he’d hoped it would be. The captivating Rasa, and Caroline, a journalist struggling with a bitter loss, round out the cast of wonderful characters.

 

Book three is Chick Yuill’s To the Fourth Generation. In this novel, we meet Zander Bennings, a man with a secret which leads him to search through three previous generations of first-born sons in his family. We meet Zander’s great-grandfather Sandie Binnie whose simple and happy faith is broken by his experiences during WWI. Suffering from PTSD, then known as ‘shell shock’, the effects impact his entire family. Despite Sandie’s disapproval his son Alec becomes a miner, a job Sandie felt didn’t lived up to Alec’s potential. A lifelong member of the Salvation Army, Alec’s faith was solid but strict. His son Ecky was a late-born only child and the father-son bond was deep until Ecky’s passion for football became an issue which drove them apart. When his father’s fears for him come to fruition, Ecky is even angrier and more determined to sever all ties with his family. Yet despite Ecky’s fall-out with his father over his career hopes, he himself is not supportive of his own son Zander’s hopes to become a writer. Zander’s path to publication is long and rocky.

Although this is a story – or stories – of a family bloodline, there are other important characters too. Key to events is the very wonderful Mr Potter and his wife who show throughout that family is not necessarily only about blood ties. Though this is a book about four generations of sons and fathers, the women in the book are significant too, strongly and sometimes surprisingly written.

Chick has a wonderful ability to create characters who feel real and are multi-faceted. His writing makes the reader think, and he also likes to drop some big and jarring surprises and twists into his books and does so in spectacular fashion in this one.

I found this book a little slow going at the beginning but it gathers pace briskly and keeps the momentum right up to the surprising end. Another top novel from Chick, and not at all ‘in your face’ Christian elements make this especially good for anyone wary of too much Christian content in their novels.

 

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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Murder, Forgotten (Paperback)
Deb Richardson-Moore
Retail price: £8.99
Your price: £8.99

The Promised Land (Paperback)
Elizabeth Musser
Retail price: £9.99
Your price: £9.99

To the Fourth Generation (Paperback)
Chick Yuill
Retail price: £9.99
Your price: £9.99

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