Saturday 29 April 2017

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

Book Review by Greenacre Writer, Carol Sampson

In Her Wake is a mesmerising story about relationships, lost and found. It begins with Bella returning to her childhood home to attend the funeral of her mother, Elaine. Bella says that “a feeling of foreboding gathers inside me as we round the familiar bends in the road” which would be natural for someone returning to bury a loved mother until we learn that the house “is a place of heady memories, memories of intense love, of bolted doors and claustrophobic loneliness.”

The mystery of Bella’s early years at the house are compounded when it is revealed there is a lack of affection between Bella and her father, that “an emotional chasm” exists, and that Bella was home taught and not permitted to mix with other children until the age of twelve.
Shortly after her mother’s funeral Bella receives shattering news that threatens the comfortable life she leads. The devastating secret is so personal that she does not wish to share it, even with her husband David, who is her rock and knows what is best for her.

I’m not telling a soul. Not even David. If I tell David, he’ll want to make it better.”

For a few days she holds this new knowledge close as she fumbles around in a “catatonic daze”. David, believing Bella is broken with grief, attempts to cheer her up and make her feel better.  Bella, feeling stifled and angry with David’s constant attention, sets of on a journey which takes her to the beautiful Cornish coast. Here she unravels a twenty five year old mystery which changes her life.

In Her Wake, narrated by Bella, is gripping from the start. On a quest to uncover family secrets she begins to understand who she really is and the reader is swept along with the tide of her emotions. You feel her anger when she discovers the betrayals that have kept her cocooned during her early life; her frustration and anger at being controlled, first by her parents and then by David. You feel her pain as she slowly learns the truth.

Bella, like many who experience life changing events - where life as it was is no more - no longer feels the need to please others. This allows her the freedom to discover who she really is, her true self rather than the actor that she had been, playing a part to keep those she loved happy.
Amanda Jennings has written a captivating story in beautiful prose including some lovely descriptions of the coastal town of St Ives.  She has injected life and energy into the characters, especially Bella, which gives the story a haunting reality.

The story is a reminder that all relationships are complex and fragile and that sometimes people act out of desperation, believing at the time that their intentions were in the best interests of all concerned even if they do result in devastating consequences.

An enthralling story. A compelling read.

Thank you to Orenda Books for the review copy

You can follow Amanda on Twitter: @mandajjennings
(Apparently she's on a Twitter break)
So check out @orendabooks who tweets 24hours!

And the lovely Carol @carol_sampson55

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