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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 22 January 2018

"Sheltering Rain" by Jojo Moyes

Sixteen year-old Sabine is packed off to her grandmother's house in Ireland so that her mother can move in with yet another man. Sabine, without internet or much television or even telephone contact, buried deep in the countryside with an unbending grandmother, a dying grandfather and little else but mud and horses, struggles to cope. Will she run away or will she learn how to love an alien way of life?

Stable boys and family secrets abound in this story. But the plot is not really the point. There is a strong cast of characters: Joy the ironically named grandmother, ungainly and awkward as a teenager and stiff and buttoned-up as an old lady; Sabine the rebellious teenager with a particularly fine line in saying things that her others and then feeling ashamed and sorry; Kate the feckless mother, never able to hold down a relationship, not even with mother or daughter; Annie, with a special line in depression. The male characters are less convincing, acting mostly as opportunities for the women to develop. Thom is an impossibly wonderful shoulders to cry on despite his back-story, and grandfather just lies there dying, despite his. 

The unsolved mystery at the heart of the story is: since none of the family seem to do any work, how on earth do they fund the wages of all those who work for them?

Some great phrases:
  • She was seemingly covered in an ever-growing coat of spikes, like a glamorous, sulky porcupine.” (p 38)
  • The women were divided into sluts, who panted with ill-concealed lust over distracted  male heroes, who were just trying to get on with saving the world, or virgins, who panted with restrained longing as the same heroes skillfully seduced them.” (p 75)
  • Kate didn't point out that Maggie's much-referred-to culture was somewhat elastic, taking in trips to McDonald's with her sons, split-shift dining with her doctor husband, who worked erratic hours at the local hospital, and a devotional love of Coronation Street.” (p 110)
  • like a well-practised politician she would simply ‘mishear’ anything that didn't fit into her current world-view, and cheerful restate her opinions as if they had never been questioned.” (p 110)
  • They divided girls in her class into ‘drains and radiators’; radiators being those popular girls who gave out interest and enthusiasm, drawing people around them, and drains being ... well, drains.” (p 113)
  • She deserved it, didn't she? she told herself, desperately trying to rationalise the hurt she was about to cause.” (p 118)
  • Evil trolls masquerading as our children” (p 121)
  • The snot-and-shudder stage of crying” (p 166)
  • You can’t argue with a missing limb ... You can’t argue with anything missing.” (p 379)

This is a beautifully balanced novel with plenty of action, plenty of sadness, and plenty of humour.

Also by Jojo Moyes and reviewed on this blog:

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