Three Sisters. Three childhoods ruined. One chance to heal the scars of the past.
After the death of their cruel and abusive mother, estranged sisters Alex, Catherine and Beth reunite once again.
Alex, the youngest, is a bitter, unhappy woman who refuses to face the horrors of her childhood. Finding solace in a bottle, her life is spiralling dangerously out of control.
Eldest child, Catherine, has strived for success, despite her difficult upbringing. But behind the carefully constructed façade lies a secret that could shatter her world forever.
Beth, the middle child, bore the greatest burden. But having blocked out the cruelty they suffered, she remained with their mother until her death. Now she must confront the devastating reality of her past.
Brought together as strangers, the sisters embark on a painful journey to heal themselves and each other. Can they finally put their terrible childhoods to rest and start over? an emotional, heart-breaking and compelling novel for readers of Diane Chamberlain, Amanda Prowse and Kelly Rimmer.
Angela is known for her crime novels, which she writes brilliantly, so I was interested as to how she would write a women’s literary fiction novel, especially one with such emotive subject matter. The verdict…brilliantly!
The story centres around three sisters, Catherine, Beth and Alex, each of whom suffered physical and the resulting emotional abuse by their mother. After a period of estrangement, the sister’s are brought together again following the death of their mother. Told in third person narrative but from the perspectives of Catherine and Alex we see the impact their childhood had on each of them.
As a former child protection social worker, I wondered if Angela would be able to write with depth and understanding about the devastating consequences a childhood marred with abuse can have on an adult. I’m pleased to say Angela nails it! She writes with empathy and an acute understanding of the potential aftermath of an abusive childhood; from alcohol as a coping mechanism to the impact on future parenting skills and all that comes in between.
All three sisters have developed a different coping strategy and the consequences are heartbreaking. It is the middle child, Beth, who I worried about the most throughout this book. Her voice is not as clear during the telling of the story, yet she still comes across as a pivotal character and is the one who brings the sisters back together again. I wanted to bring Beth home and give her the mothering she had never experienced. You cannot help but get emotionally involved with all of the characters.
Interspersed with memories of abusive events during their childhood, this is not always a comfortable read and is, quite frankly, heartbreaking. I consider myself quite hardened due to my past job, however Angela broke me. The legacy that their mother left them bares on the future generations and makes for incredibly powerful reading. I felt an intense sadness on completion of this book, and it made me feel that pit of your stomach ache that only intense sorrow can make you feel. I left it a couple of days before writing this review to try and get over it, however, in writing it those same feelings have come back.
It comes across that Angela has done a lot of research as she writes about therapy sessions with realism and accuracy.
This is a well written, acutely observed portrayal of the aftermath of a childhood filled with abuse. It showcases Angela’s talent as a writer and demonstrates how she can seamlessly move from one genre to another. It is not an easy read but one worth undertaking. I highly recommend it but warn you to have a box of tissues handy.
Thank you to Angela Marsons, Bookouture and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Published 11 July 2016 by Bookouture. Previously published as The Middle Child.