Publisher: Simon And Schuster
Publication Date: 21st February 2019
I’m going to find it extremely difficult to review this amazing book without giving away very important plot points, so forgive me if I’m deliberately vague and sketchy on the actual storyline.
In fact I went into this book knowing very little about it myself and personally I think that is absolutely the best way to experience this story.
What drew me to it in all honesty, were the hashtags it was given on social media. #postpartum #mentalhealthmatters. Having had two children and suffering both times with varying degrees of postnatal depression, something chimed in me and I knew I had to read this book. I’ve read some great books which tackle the subject of PND and postpartum psychosis and as both my children are now far enough beyond baby age (one is 13 and one is 10), I don’t find the subject as uncomfortable to read about anymore. Thankfully this meant I could enjoy this book for what it is, and that is a heartbreaking masterpiece.
So what can I actually tell you without ruining your enjoyment of the book? Well, our protagonist is Cornelia Blackwood, or Leah as she’s known. We know early on that she has suffered some heartache in her past and with her husband Simon’s help she appears to be trying to get over whatever has happened to her, despite some physical and mental boundaries.
When she experiences a further blow and her life is massively turned on it’s head once again, events conspire to bring a young single mum named Cassie into her life along with her young son Ollie.
Leah and Cassie strike up a firm friendship and Leah begins to take much more of an interest in Ollie, letting her affections grow stronger for him, but for what reasons and how far will this interest and affection go?….
Told via a dual timeline narrative with distinct ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ chapters, the sequence of events in Leah’s past are slowly revealed. Even though I thought I knew what had happened, I was totally wrong footed when all the details were eventually revealed. The ‘now’ chapters were quite pacey whereas the ‘then’ chapters felt more purposefully slow and at times almost dreamlike. Possibly mirroring Leah’s mental health at the time. There is a recurrent theme of crows and what they signify to Leah which makes for a very discomfiting read.
This book is heavy with emotion, heartache and grief. Postpartum mental health is dealt with so deftly and with such empathy that it had me tearing up at times (and I’m an ice queen!). I imagine this book could be very triggering in terms of infant loss, miscarriage, PND and mental health issues so there’s that to bear in mind if you are going to read it.
I sped through it super fast and was totally and utterly absorbed in Leah’s heart rending story. Watching her unravel and hoping against hope that she could find some well deserved peace.
This is a stunningly emotive, utterly compelling story that I think will strike a personal cord with lots of people and one that I would urge everyone to read. In fact I’ve seen lots of people tweeting about how much this book has affected them, and having to take a while to process what they’ve read.
I feel privileged to have read it myself and thanks as always go to the publisher for the advanced review copy.
See you soon.
Bookish Chat xxx