Sometimes I read reviews of books that I’ve read and wonder if I read a different book. It’s certainly the case with this novel.
It’s a story of a family torn apart and a woman investigating the death of her young son twenty years before; Romola has to deal with the fact that one of her brothers- a famous novelist- has slipped into a coma. Her other brother, a priest, has confessed to sexually abusing a boy. He was also linked to the death of the boy, because he had tried to save him. Add to this mix the novelist’s young Italian girlfriend, the grieving mother’s no-nonsense, baby-mad daughter and you have a complex web of people that could have provided a rich tapestry of a novel.
However, I felt a bit let down. The characters weren’t really jumping off the page for me and I didn’t feel the same emotion I had with John Boyne’s A History of Loneliness last year (which also deals with an abusive priest). To me, this felt like an old fashioned novel trying to tackle something very much in the present- and not quite managing it.
*Sent for review