Heeeeelllloooo readers; odd week. I’ve just felt a little meh; like seriously meh and nothing has helped to lift that. Not even many, many, many documentaries (mostly on prisons,) not hot chocolate or ice cream, but yeah. This book has helped. I forget that books are often my sanity, and the first thing I do when I’m stroppy or stressy is stopping reading which is bladdy stupid. MORE BOOKS, MORE BOOKS, MORE BOOKS – but for now the review.
‘My beautiful girls. If you’ve read this, you’ll know it contains some – not all, but some – of the things I want my daughters to know. And the greatest of these is love …’
How would you say goodbye to those you love most in the world?
Barbara must say a final farewell to her four daughters. But how can she find the words? And how can she leave them when they each have so much growing up to do? There’s commitment-phobic Lisa. Brittle, unhappily married Jennifer. Free-spirited traveller Amanda. And teenage Hannah, stumbling her way towards adulthood.
Barbara’s answer is to write each daughter a letter, finally expressing the hopes, fears, dreams and secrets she couldn’t always voice. These words will touch the girls in different – sometimes shocking – ways, unlocking emotions and passions to set them on their own journey of discovery through life.
As the blurb suggests the book follows Barbara being disagnosed with cancer and realising that she isn’t going to be around for her family for a lot longer. She therefore decides to write to her four daughters individually, each personal to them to help when their mother has gone. Devastated by the loss each of the sisters finds something from the letters but will it be comfort, or will they only bring more questions?
Right, onto the nitty-gritty. Ignore the fact that this feels like it might not be the happiest of books – yes it is incredibly emotional and yes it did make me cry on the first page but this book is utterly gorgeous. As you can imagine from the synopsis we don’t get to meet Barbara but she sounds like the warmest and strongest person; her love for her daughters is everlasting and there are parts where she discusses things that you would never believe a dying woman would want to admit. The daughters however are constantly evolving cast of characters.
The eldest of the bunch is Lisa who is a commitment-phobe; she was the closest to her mother and really struggled with the breakdown of the relationship between Barbara and her Dad. I adored watching her relationship with Andy waver and falter and gain strength and the weaving secondary plot-line with Cee Cee and her Andy’s previous marriage. Jennifer was the hardest to warm to; her relationship with Stephen and their struggle as a married couple was difficult to read at times. Seeing her evolve and become a little less brittle was wonderful to watch – there is a really tough scene with Jennifer and Barbara’s second husband Mark and that a stressful scene but it really showed the merit of the author.
Amanda is the traveller of the group, who jets off around the world and is rarely home. Her letter is one of the most shocking – BUT NO SPOILERS HERE. Finally there is Hannah the baby of the family who loses her mother when she needs her most. Mark is her father and step-father to the others sisters desperately trying to make the family work together.
That’s a lot of character profiling but I’ll get into the writing. This book is utterly wonderful; full of beautiful writing, stunning interweaving stories, beautiful character profiling and I really exciting read. The book is full of trials and tribulations unlike some family style book and although it is a little bit of a chick-lit it mainly revolves around family, with its up’s and down’s. The book revolves around so many different relationships – mother and daughter, father and daughter, father, step-parenting, first love, second loves, new love, old love – it’s a right mish-mash. In terms of the narrative it’s written in third person so it’s easy to follow each of the stories from each of the girls and as the book isn’t divided into chapters each is easily labelled with the person of the story. Additionally little interludes from Barbara’s letters perfect interrupt the narrative.
So, I’ll stop here – this book is a beautifully wholesome and emotional book that will touch your heart and make you feel all warm inside. Definitely recommend.