A deeply moving novel that bring the past back to life.
This book intrigued me when I first heard about it, and so when the author offered me a copy of the book so I could read it, I jumped at the chance. I do so love books that follow the family lives of real people from the past, and this one had an added bonus – the people depicted in this novel are related to the author. The people she has written about not only have come back to life within the pages, but there is an added sense of the past being not so distant as it can sometimes feel. These people might have lived over 100 years ago, but their family is still living today, and this book is proof of the clear connection between the past and the present.
Kate is a very easy character to like. She tries her best at everything, even though life seems to have it out for her. She is young, and alone in a new country, trying to make her way. When she meets Will, she sees the attention as a way out of a boring, lonely life, but there are warning signs from the very start that Kate simply can’t see because she doesn’t know to look out for them. Will does not want her to spend time with people other than him, and makes her feel bad for choosing to do what she wants, rather than what he wants.
Kate and Will’s relationship takes up most of the story, although I can’t really call it a relationship. Will is a bully, first and foremost, but he is also manipulative, violent, and only really thinks about himself. I absolutely hated him, throughout the entire book. He is so incredibly mean, especially to Kate, but also to their children. It was, at times, difficult to read, for he spares no thought to how young his children are, or whether they are safe, he only cares about what he wants, and whether or not Kate is getting it for him fast enough.
I really liked the diary layout of this book, especially with how it allows for time to pass, and gives Kate a way to talk about everything going on in her life, when she doesn’t have anyone she can actually talk to. The whole format has been done wonderfully, I really felt like I was reading someone’s diary. If you, like me, enjoy reading novels that follow real people from the past, this is the one for you, but I will say, there are some truly upsetting moments, and the domestic violence Kate and her children suffer takes a forefront in the novel.