In this gripping saga of dark family secrets, she draws, controls and manipulates her large cast of complex characters masterfully. She also creates a clear sense of place wherever the story’s action moves, hopping effortlessly across different locations across Italy, London, Northumberland and Penzance.
Contemporary but Timeless
She addresses many timeless issues, particularly focusing on the power of bereavement to devastate families by unlocking secrets and hidden resentments. When someone dies, the loss often goes so much further than the departure of the individual – I’ve seen this in my own family (though not with such devastation as in this book) – and in some respects this book serves as a cautionary tale.
Her subtle prose is flawless, expressive and often deeply moving, as much when dealing with tiny observations of insignificant things, as much as with the big issues. The opening scene of Isabel kissing her dead father goodbye is the perfect example of the author’s power.
As Dark As Thomas Hardy
Now, I’m one of life’s Pollyanna’s, constantly seeking happy endings, restoration and resolution, and this novel as a little too dark for me. I found it terribly sad, with less redemption for the damaged, damaging characters than I had anticipated.
This doesn’t mean I think any the less of the writer or of her talent – I’d say the same about Thomas Hardy, one of my all-time favourites. But I always intersperse his books between more cheerful tales in my to-read pile. Reading them in succession is just too gloomy for me, but I always return to them and strongly recommend them to others. The same applies to Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s books, and I’ll definitely be reading her next book as soon as she’s finished writing it!
For more about Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, visit her website: www.lindsaystanberry.flynn.co.uk.