The narrative alternates between Beth's tale of how she comes to term with the guilt of losing a child and Carmel's strange life on the run with the man who says he is her grandfather.
I was a bit confused. It was a strange book. I had expected an intense, claustrophobic tale of child abduction but the time scale of this book spread the emotion; the main interest went to Carmel's strange itinerant life in the US. At the end I had many questions left unanswered: what happened to Mercy? Is the author telling us that Beth really does have supernatural powers? I read it quickly but much of the time I was skim-reading so I may have missed some details. In the end I wondered whether the abduction and the weird place in Wales was necessary to a tale which seemed to want to be about faith healing. It was as if the author was trying to tell a lot of stories and they weren't fully integrated.
And what was all that Wizard of Oz stuff?
And why does the blurb on the back say that Carmel Wakefield has gone missing when the character's name is Carmel Wakeford?
There were some delightful bits:
- "Where are fairies and writers now when you need them?" (C 12)
- "I got the sense of the earth opening up and releasing something that should have stayed compressed: the smell of mud; a deadly mustard gas seeping about the room." (C 16)
- "He was angry now, like men are when there's no action to be taken." (C 16)
- "I'd gone back to tobacco with one swift and easy motion and it had welcomed me, through its smoky lips." (C 17)
- "Children are like the zombies I once saw in a film at Dad's. We have to do as we're told and obey like our brains have got eaten." (C 25) I'm not convinced that even precocious eight-year olds watch zombie films with their parents.
- "He looks down at the ground like he wants to kill it." (C 33)
July 2020; 375 pages