Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently-absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins.
Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Anna becomes haunted by the discovery of a baby's skeleton in the garden of their house. Her narrative is punctuated by letters home, written 200 years before, by May, a young, middle-class midwife desperately trying to introduce modern medicine to the suspicious, insular islanders.
The lives of these two characters intersect unexpectedly in this deeply moving but also at times blackly funny story.
©2011 Sarah Moss (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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"Very good read"
I really enjoyed this book. To begin with I thought I might become too annoyed with the self sacrificing main character, but thankfully she resists many of the expections put upon her as a woman. The humour within the text helped make this an interesting exploration of the complexities of some women lives. The narration was good, and by the end I wanted more.
"too many diversions."
ditching the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I found in the first chapter it was hard to know where the quote ended and the story began. started from the beginning twice.sticking to two themes instead of trying to encompass too much i.e., a mother trying to cope with two boys, the youngest sleeping for only a few hours in the night with her studying to write a book, or the finding of a baby's skeleton and its outcome or the letters by a woman from an unknown time period.
ring of guilt by Judith cutler.
didn't enjoy any of it..
all of them.
kept falling asleep.
"Struggled to keep me awake"
The narration was one of the better aspects of this book for me and I ploughed on expecting something to happen and the plot and purpose of the book to reveal itself. Now having completed it I am left wondering if I missed a chunk. The whole novel is set around the unhappy, dissatisfied life of Anna, who spends practically every night walking the floor with her youngest child Timothy who for some reason they call 'Moth' I think. Her days are spent refereeing various altercations between her two sons, the elder of which, Raphael, is a super intelligent environmentally green fanatic with a death obsession and the tantrum prone Timothy.
Throughout all this is the bubbling resentment of her puffin counting husband, Giles, who spends blissful days counting said birds on the remote and virtually uninhibited island on which they live.
Interspersed with all this is the reading of letters from an unknown source and the finding of some baby's bones wrapped in a knitted shawl buried in the garden of their house. There are no spoilers here so I shan't go further. I know some people enjoyed this book and there are moments of humour when Anna imagines what torture she would like to mete out to Giles on occasion and indeed the children. The wonder for me is how she managed to restrain herself. Personally I felt all the characters, especially the children, lacked any redeeming features whatsoever.
I hate giving negative feedback and the book was well written and constructed but I am still left wondering what the point was.
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