“Stories and truths were different things. They had to be kept separate, each in their own little drawer, neatly labelled and permanently tucked away. Somewhere inside Patrice’s mind, she feared, the walls that held the different realms part were getting thin.”
Author: Alison May Published: 2018 Pages: 315
This novel centres on Patience Bickersleigh, a medium who wants to use her gift to help people cope with their grief and make a connection with their deceased loved ones one last time. She has a hidden past, full of secrets she wants to keep hidden and ghosts that haunt her. Now, fifty years later, and called Patrice Leigh, she is determined to finish her life with the past firmly behind her. Enter Leo, a man who is struggling with his own personal life, and the disappearance of his son, who is a journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. But as he tries to delve deeper into her past, she puts up barriers which makes Leo suspicious that she is hiding more than she lets on. So who will win over? A woman refusing to let her guard down, or a man determined to figure out the truth.
I loved the stories of Kyle and Olly, which were peppered throughout the narrative, and I think May did a really good job of showing a raw an honest portrayal of how different people cope with grief. By having a protagonist with a job like Patrice’s, she also showed how far people will go to have one last hope of connecting with the ones they have lost.
I did like the complexity of Patrice as a protagonist; she was strong-willed but throughout the novel, as a reader, I could slowly see cracks appearing in the exterior she wanted everyone to see. It was interesting to see a woman who was mysterious and yet just as human as everyone else. Guilty of all the same sins, but also seemingly gifted with such a powerful skill.
I think the main reason I didn’t love the book was because it got a little messy trying to keep track of all the characters in the novel. While each of their stories were fascinating, I don’t think there was enough time spent on any of them to properly become invested in them. It felt like there were about 4 books crammed into the space of one, and I think that is at times, why I lost interest.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but it was just missing something for me. I think, perhaps, I would have enjoyed it more if there had been more about the story of Olly, because he was the character I was most fascinated by throughout the novel. I do think that novels which prove the power of grief are important though, and I am happy to have read May’s take on the human condition and the tragedy which can occur to ordinary people.
Thank you to Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.