Lullaby Beach By Stella Duffy – A Review

Publisher: Virago Press

Publication Date: 4th February 2021

I’d be a complete liar if I said I wasn’t initially drawn to Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy because of its vintage cover beauty. I will always be there for a vintage frock!

But when I read the synopsis I was equally as drawn in. I’d never actually read any Stella Duffy before but let me tell you I intend to visit her back catalogue and I read Lullaby Beach in one sitting, staying up till gone midnight on a school night no less. This should give you a good indication of my feelings on this book. That and the fact that it appeared on my Best Books Of 2020 post.

The story opens with Lucy discovering that her Great Aunt Kitty has committed suicide by overdose of pills in her beach hut home, leaving a strange message behind.

Kitty has always been the strong matriarchal figure in the family. The one who held everyone together with her no nonsense attitude. Lucy is determined to find out what pushed her Great Aunt Kitty to end it all.

From here we meet Kitty’s two nieces, Lucy’s mother Beth and her aunt Sara. The story encompasses three generations of women and the secrets that have shaped them all. Starting with Kitty in the 1950’s, desperate to leave the coast and travel to London to start a new life with her love Danny Nelson. When they finally make it to the capital, life isn’t all that Kitty hoped it would be. Her relationship with Danny takes a destructive turn and Kitty ends up back home much sooner than she could have ever anticipated, dealing with the physical and emotional fall out.

Essentially this is a story of family secrets held across decades. Secrets which these women have kept to themselves but which have shaped their lives immeasurably. However, with the unraveling of Kitty’s heartbreaking secrets, Beth, Sara and Lucy can begin to take stock of what’s happened to them each in turn and how they can deal with that with honesty going forward in their lives.

The book deals with many topics which could be triggering to some people so I will just mention a few here. There’s sexual assault, infant death, and abortion. Ultimately it is a story of women’s agency over their own bodies and the violence of men and how this has changed over the years but also how it sadly has stayed the same in lots of ways.

The women in this story are strong. None more so than Kitty herself who’s death is the catalyst for the remaining women in the family to open up and attempt to heal their own past traumas. Kitty is one of those characters that you instantly miss when you close the book. I still think about her now and she will always remain in my heart as one of my favourite characters in any book I’ve read.

Stella Duffy weaves a beautifully compelling and at times heartbreaking story that lures you in right from the off. Her writing is wonderful and her scene setting is perfect. I could picture myself on the coast at Lullaby Beach so effortlessly. The interaction between the characters is honest and authentic which made them all so relatable and enables the reader to empathise with these women.

Lullaby Beach is certainly a book I won’t forget and will be one that I recommend for a long time to come.

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx


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