Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
on 1 March 2014
This is the first novel I have read by Mary Lawson, which I was kindly lent to read in a review copy. The story takes place in the late 1960s although as certain characters look back on growing up it does span the earlier years of the Twentieth Century. The story itself isn’t told in a conventional way; instead it is told through three characters. Edward, who is the father, is told in the first person, and Tom and Megan, brother and sister, are told in the third person.
Set mainly in the small town of Struan, in Northern Ontario this does also take in other places, noticeably Sixties London. At the heart of this story though is a family, a very dysfunctional one at that. The father goes to work and spends his evenings in his study, whilst the mother, who is always seemingly having a new baby, is wrapped up in that, and lets everything else go to seed. Megan is the only girl in the house being surrounded by her brothers, and along with the cleaner who comes in a couple of times a week, really runs the household.
When Megan leaves home to seek out a new life in London, obviously the family starts falling to pieces. Why this works is that through the eyes of the three main characters you can see why the family is the way it is. Tom is feeling depressed and isolated by the suicide of his friend, as well as what led up to it, whereas through Edward you can see why the family is set on such a chaotic course.
I found I did enjoy this to quite a large extent, but I did at times get a bit annoyed at Megan’s experiences in London as from a bumpy start everything just seemed too pat and smooth for her after that, to a large extent. The dynamics and psychology of the family was very interesting, and although quite deep was easy to understand. This may make an interesting read for a book group, as there is quite a bit here that could lead to a good conversation.