Publication Date: 13th August 2020
If I tell you that The Sound Mirror by Heidi James was my first Heidi James book and I’ve since gone on to buy (and read) more, do you get some sense of whether I enjoyed this book?
Not only is Heidi a lovely, engaging presence on Twitter, she is a stunning author who confidently reels you in and just ‘gets it’. I hope you know what I mean by that!
The Sound Mirror opens with Tamara (in the present day) and this bold firecracker of a sentence:
She is going to kill her mother today. But she’s no monster. She’s not the villain.
Yep. I was hooked.
We go on to discover that ‘killing’ of Tamara’s mother is not as clear cut as it may initially seem. In the first brief chapter we also get a glimpse of the past relationship between Tamara and her mother, a glimpse which happens to speak volumes.
We then switch narrative to Claire and move from the present day to the Second World War when Claire, a Londoner from an Italian family is evacuated to Wales along with two of her siblings. From here we watch her grow up and see her navigate the tricky life of a young female from a large family who is thrust into the role of mother and nurturer at an early age out of necessity.
We also meet the final character in our triumvirate of fascinating women, Ada. An Anglo-Indian girl who moves back to England when India gains independence. Being lighter skinned she feels she can easily fit into life in England. However, being blessed with good looks means she is quite often seen as a possession under the male gaze.
Each of these strong female voices is as crystal clear and distinct as they can possibly be. There are no doubts as to who’s narrative you are with and I found that I enjoyed reading each of them equally, which isn’t always the case when you’re hearing from multiple voices.
Ada has a mostly successful life from the outside to all intents and purposes but she often struggles with the notion of being caught between two worlds and trying to find her place. Claire for her part is forced to mature before her time, thrust into the role of mother and nurturer way before she ever had children of her own. Through Tamara’s story we catch glimpses of her childhood and adolescence and piece together how she has become an angry young woman.
As each of the women’s narratives moved along it wasn’t initially clear what the links (if any) were between them. As I was reading I was trying to anticipate what the connection between the women could possibly be but I also found myself thinking that if these separate narratives stayed separate and were joined only by an over arcing theme of motherhood and identity I’d have still been as immersed in the book.
I will say now that there is a link between the women and when it all dropped into place the almost choral voice of what I had felt were ‘mothers’ narrating Tamara’s chapters became crystal clear.
This book perfectly examines a subject which I’ve always been fascinated by and particularly drawn to, motherhood and how mistakes are made which then go on to shape future generations. Just how far reaching are the reverberations of our actions, large or small.
Heidi James expertly weaves these women’s lives together to form a patchwork of motherhood and the changing roles and aspirations of women over the ever changing decades. Her writing is super sharp, vivid and beautiful. She doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and we get the warts and all aspects of real life which I absolutely adored.
All three of these women’s voices will remain with you long after you have finished reading.
As I said at the start, I have since gone on to read more of Heidi James work and she is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. It’s such a thrill to discover someone who you feel is writing for you. Heidi James could produce anything in the future and I will read it (and no doubt love it!).
Please do pick up a copy of The Sound Mirror. You won’t regret it. I promise.
You could keep your eyes peeled on my Twitter account over at @bookishchat tomorrow (Friday 11th Sept) for a super special giveaway…….I shall say no more.
Thank you to Heidi and Bluemoose for sending me a copy of The Sound Mirror. It’s been a real pleasure and privilege to read it.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookishchat xxx