Top positive review
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'Hers is the ghost that will not let me go.'
on 4 January 2012
The previous novel by this author, 'This Perfect World', was a gripping emotional read, and deservedly went on to become a Richard and Judy Book Club selection, thereby also garnering a much wider readership. With this novel, the author has again chosen a very emotional storyline. Rachel is devastated to have lost her baby daughter seven months into her pregnancy. Unsurprisingly she is haunted and tormented by the loss of her baby girl, `hers is the ghost that will not let me go' she says. Her relationship with her teenage son, Jono, is strained at best, and she feels distanced from her husband Andrew. They have put their son in a private school, and Rachel feels she has no real friends amongst the mothers there, further alienating her. Her isolation is mirrored by Jono, himself isolated amongst his richer school friends, and this becomes another thing that eats away at Rachel; `We shoved him among them, and now I can only watch as I see him measuring himself against them, and falling short.'
Rachel begins to think back to a friend, Vanessa, `a friend by association' really, who she had and lost during her teenage years. A chance encounter one day brings the events from that time back to the forefront of her thoughts, and she knowingly becomes obsessed. She actively seeks out the Vanessa's brother, and a clandestine affair begins. What results will cause her further torment.
This is a dark, compulsive, well-written tale, with a chilling portrait of this desperate, lonely, obsessed mother who feels trapped in domestic life. She feels invisible, like she doesn't matter. `I am just a middle-aged woman out of nowhere. I am what you become when you disappear.' I felt sympathy for Rachel, but also a bit of irritation. She can only change her life herself, but she chooses something negative in having an affair. She knows it can't lead anywhere. She doesn't, or can't, appreciate what she's got. But, it's easy to judge her when standing on the outside looking in. She is incredibly hard on herself, `sunk in the grip of self-loathing.' She is full of sadness, it tragic to read how disconnected from the world she feels. `I feel myself to be outside life, looking in' and has always felt `the outsider, the one on the edge of other people's lives.'
If you enjoyed 'This Perfect World' I think you'll get a lot out of this novel, too.