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Sophie and Mandy, Anna and Laura - two daughters and two mothers and a story about the bond of motherly love. Sophie is a happy 18-year-old living in London with Anna, her Irish mother. Anna has devoted her life to Sophie. It may be just the two of them - no father nor grandparents, no uncles nor aunts - but Anna has more than enough love to give. Sophie has everything she could ever need. Laura is a not-so-happy artist. She too has a daughter, Mandy. But Laura is haunted by the loss of her first child, Jody. Happy-go-lucky as she is, Mandy lives in Jody's shadow and wonders why her mother can never let go. Both mothers carry secrets in their hearts and cannot forget the day their paths crossed. But a chance discovery is about to bring everything into the open and mothers and daughters, love and lies, past and future, will spectacularly collide . . . (synopsis from book)
I am a huge Sinead Moriarty fan and have been reading her books for years. There is something about her writing that completely draws you in , and absorbs you into her books from the minute you start to the second you turn that final page. I was absolutely over the moon to receive a review of her latest book This Child of Mine complete with gorgeous glittery cover, and I had to start it as soon as I could, I just knew it was going to be a great read. Luckily for me, Sinead hasn't let me down, and this is quite possibly one of my favourite books of hers to date - with a slightly controversial theme that had me shocked and surprised all the way along... I loved it!
Irish school headteacher Anna lives with her daughter Sophie, who at 18 is getting ready to move on with her life and is getting ready for art college. Anna's single, and enjoys being that way - she focuses all of her attention on her job and her daughter, and likes it that way. On the opposite end, there's Laura, an artist who lives with her daughter Mandy, but is constantly grieving the loss of her first born daughter Jody, who died when she was a toddler. Laura lives with the guilt every day, and the subsequent demise of her relationship with her mother also. Neither woman really knows about each other, but their lives are about to take a huge turn and shock both of the women to their very cores. What exactly is going on with Anna and Laura, and will their lives ever be the same after the dramatic news?
This book is going to be a bit of a difficult one to review because I really don't want to give away a lot of the story as it's vital you find things out exactly as Moriarty wants you to, and I think that is why the blurb of the book is intentionally vague. As the book began with a mysterious prologue that has you shocked and desperately wanting to know more, I started to put ideas together in my head and sort of realised what was going on, but that didn't spoil it when the surprise is actually revealed - in fact I was actually shocked that I was right because I didn't think Moriarty would choose a storyline like this, it seems so much more controversial and surprising than anything else she's written so far. It's apparent from that that the rest of the book isn't going to be an easy read, and I was right - it was emotional, sad, heart-breaking and a very thought-provoking book that you will make you wonder about the morals and rights and wrongs of the situations in the book.
Moriarty manages to juggle many different threads in this book, and does so with apparent ease. We have chapters following Laura, Sophie and Anna individually in the present day, when all of the drama is occuring, but then we also delve into the past's of Anna and Laura which sets up the reason for the things that happen. I really loved Anna, she was someone I saw a lot of myself in, and found her such an easy character to like, even after things are revealed. She clearly dotes on her daughter, and it makes the rest of what happens even harder to read about. Laura, on the other hand, was a character I disliked immensely, even as an adult when she's apparently changed her life around and is trying her best. Mandy, her daughter, suffers because Laura cannot leave the memory of Jody behind, and I felt very sorry for the lost, young teenage girl.
I found so many aspects of the book to be intriguing. Firstly, the condition 'synesthesia' which is mentioned throughout the book relating to several characters was something I had never heard of before, and I'm now curious to find out more about it, the idea of seeing feelings and emotions through colour. Moriarty has clearly done her research about it, and writes convincingly on the topic, so much so that the reader is able to get a good grasp of what it is, and how it affects the characters in the book individually. The actions of the characters in the books are equally shocking and unexpected, and I couldn't in my mind decide whether or not I supported what the women in the book did. I was left very confused, wondering who I supported, and even now, days after finishing the book, I'm still struggling to put it out of my mind and wondering who, if anyone, was right. This is a wonderful read, and as I said, one of my favourite Sinead Moriarty books of all times. She has a great grasp of all of her characters, juggles the multiple narratives easily and takes the reader on a real emotional rollercoaster of a ride. I absolutely loved every page, and this book is most certainly going to my "books to keep" shelf, where it rightfully belongs. A brilliant book, you're missing out if you don't read this book.