Popular fiction author Monica McInerney needs no introduction to the Australian book trade. In her new novel, Ella, an editor, is in her mid-30s and settled in domestic bliss in Canberra. A horrible tragedy explodes her seemingly perfect world and sends her to the other side of the world. This instantly feels like a Monica McInerney novel: a web of characters, a confused protagonist, a strong family connection and an Irish link. Then the plot turns: tragedy, grief, heartbreak and jealousy, with any strands of romance playing second fiddle to Ella’s battle with her overwhelming grief. The tragic scenes are very moving and the fog and pain of Ella’s anguish seems realistic. There is an endearing warmth to the narrative and characters, and the underlying themes of family and forgiveness are uplifting and hopeful. There’s an emphasis on place, and the romance of central London is vividly depicted, with the story centred around a rundown Paddington terrace inhabited by untidy academics. The desire to untangle the web surrounding Ella and see some kind of peace amid the turmoil kept me engrossed: an important element of this genre. This is a quality example of its type and booksellers can be confident recommending it to customers seeking a heartening and entertaining read.
Joanne Shiells is a former retail book buyer and former editor of Bookseller+Publisher. This review first appeared in the August/September issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.