It felt like I never put this book down once I started it. Of course life disrupts us from life’s greatest pleasure, reading, but I rarely went long in my day without thinking about getting back to my book. I found myself up late often during this period due to an injury, and this book was a great companion to me through the quiet evenings.
The straight forward answer to ‘what is it about?’ is simply: a timeline of two families marching across time, weaving and swinging across, around and over each other.
That was always going to be enough to get me interested. What I didn’t expect was how connected I would become to each character in turn. As the timeline skipped and jumped, enough time was given to each voice to satisfy, but not so much as to forget the others.
I find it endlessly inspiring when people articulate clearly the internal dialogue around disorders, mental illness, professional trauma. It is hard and when it’s not done well it becomes incredibly hard work to read. Mary Beth Keane absolutely handles this with the care it deserves and helps humanise all of the voices involved with big, hard and often silent and domestic issues.
Inherited disorders, major injury, young love trumping logic, lust trumping fairness, people doing what they think is good or right before turning around, confused, and looking back on the years past with a perplexing uncertainty about whether it was right or not. It is all so human and not once in this work was I bored.
If you want to feel genuinely connected to a book, if you want to sit and readas quickly as you can and be given moments to gasp and sigh and feel genuine emotion, I recommend this book.
The story starts with Francis and Brian, new recruits in the police force who find their families growing and changing next door to each other. Francis is the ultimate picture of duty in both work and family and the two men’s lives split off in separate directions after Anne, Brian’s wife, ensures that both families will never be the same again in a moment of critical distress. Brian and Anne’s only child, Peter, and Francis and Lena’s girl, Kate, continue the connection of the two families and persist through complex internal family dynamics.
You are pulled along inch by inch, fearing the choices they make, rooting for them to come out the other side, and in my opinion the conclusion of the story felt right. It was concluded well and I felt ready for it to end, although I must admit to missing the characters now there is no more time to be had with them.