4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Meet the Bradleys,
This review is from: A Song for Issy Bradley (Kindle Edition)
For a totally non-religious person, I seem to have a strange fascination for books about religious groups, especially the smaller, less well known faiths such as Quakers, Amish and, in this case, Mormons. Carys Bray is herself a former Mormon and she has used her knowledge and experience to create a funny, wise and sympathetic story about a family in crisis.
Bishop Ian Bradley is a high-ranking official in his local Mormon Church. Ian was born and bred in the religion but his wife Claire is a convert who he met at university. She’s a stay-at-home-mum, looking after their four children who range in age from late teens to pre-school. Apart from the usual teenage issues and a bit of friction over the amount of time Ian spends on church duties, they all seem to be rubbing along together nicely until the youngest, Issy, succumbs to meningitis and this previously close-knit family is thrown into turmoil as each member struggles to find their own way to deal with her loss.
Clare’s overwhelming grief sees her take to Issy’s bed, refusing to wash, eat or perform any of the wifely duties which her faith expects of her. Her anger is aimed not just at God, but also at her husband whose faith sustains him and unfortunately leads to him trotting out well meaning platitudes to try to explain Issy’s death in the context of the teachings of the Book of Mormom, which only serve to infuriate and alienate Claire further. The children in particular struggle to come to terms with what Issy’s death means to them and the mixture of cynicism and vulnerability they display is very touching. I have to give special mention here to 7 year old Jacob whose innocence and optimism were almost unbearably poignant at times.
The book had me laughing and crying in equal measure but also gave me an insight into the Mormon faith about which I previous knew very little. For this reason I think it would make a wonderful subject for a book group discussion. Whatever Carys Bray’s reasons are for not being a member of the church any more, it certainly didn’t feel as though she had any axe to grind or political points to make. A Song For Issy Bradley is a warm and very thought-provoking novel which could have been written about any family facing such a devastating loss.