The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood Hardcover – 21 Feb 2019
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About the Author
Susan Elliot Wright grew up in Lewisham in south-east London. Before becoming a full-time writer, she did a number of different jobs, including civil servant, cleaner, dishwasher, journalist, and chef. She has an MA in writing from Sheffield Hallam University, where she is now an associate lecturer, and she lives in Sheffield with her husband. She is the author of The Things We Never Said and the Secrets We Left Behind. To find out more, visit her website: http:/www.susanelliotwright.co or follow her on Twitter @sewelliot.
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I’ve read some really heartbreaking, wonderful stories recently that have moved me to tears – but this is the novel that has run so close to some of my own early experiences as a mother (experiences that I have begun to talk about on this blog), that it gnawed at my soul, particularly the last third of the novel. I won’t lie, it is a tough read in terms of content, at least, it was for me, but I didn’t feel ‘triggered’, if that’s the correct term, I felt heard. That it wasn’t just me. That I’m not alone. I actually found some comfort in that.
The story is told in the first person narrative by Cornelia, or Leah as she is known, and it spans a dual time line, simply entitled as chapter headings; ‘Now’ and ‘Then’. It is clear from the start that something terrible has happened to Cornelia, and as the novel unfolds and Leah’s present becomes ever affected by her past, events begin to slowly piece together.
I loved that whilst reading I never really knew where the author was taking me. I guessed that certain events were going to happen – but I was never sure how it would play out. I was absolutely hooked, and quite frankly I made barely any notes during reading because I was so invested in the story I didn’t even think about tearing myself away long enough to write about what I was reading. I just wanted to feel.
Being inside the mind of Cornelia is the highlight of this novel, no other narrative voice could have done justice to the raw emotion she is feeling. The author creates a sense of internalised pain and isolation that is so close, almost to the point of feeling claustrophobic. I felt what she felt, and I was with her every step of the way. She is a wonderfully flawed character, but many of those flaws are a product of her tragic experiences.
In my opinion this is a novel that should be read, if not for the fantastic plot, then just for what it teaches about the darker side of motherhood. Absolutely outstanding.
The story is not an easy one to read and I was moved to tears throughout the book and often reflected upon the skills demonstrated by Susan Elliot Wright as a storyteller. Subtle and nuanced prose, the details and 'suggestions' made the book feel so real and therefore so powerful.
The main character of Leah has so many layers and provoked such a range of emotions from me as I read through the tragedies of her life - such clever characterisation. We could all know a Leah.
The subject matter of the book (without plot spoilers) was very painful to read but so important to explore.
The final paragraph of the story took my breath with its beauty and sadness and will stay with me for a long time. Same feeling as when I read the end of The Awakening by Kate Chopin.
Leah was a great man in character because you know she has been through some things and so she gets your sympathy right away. The more you learn about her life, the more you worry for her and yet want things to work out for her at the same time. There are a few supporting characters who come in and out of the novel, Leah's husband Adrian and his father Paul but this book really is all about Leah.
There are quite a few strong themes running through the book and this novels does definitely come with care warnings for baby loss and probably recent grief as well but if you're ok with those then you are going to love this absolute page turner. I did wonder initially what the relevance of the bird on the cover was but all becomes clear once you get into the finale of this novel and now I am VERY suspicious of the crows that I see. I cried, I gasped, I was utterly gripped, could I ask for anything more? I highly recommend this novel!