Thanks to Emma at Damppebbles for the opportunity to read and review for the blog tour, and to Louise Walters Books for a digital review copy. This is the first book I’ve read by Helen Kitson, so my first visit to ‘Morvale’.
Diana and her sister Antonia are house-sharing spinsters who have never got over their respective first loves. Diana owns a gift shop, but rarely works there. Antonia is unemployed, having lost her teaching job at an all girls’ school following a shocking outburst in the classroom after enduring years of torment. Diana is a regular at the local library, Antonia enjoys her “nice” magazines, and they treat themselves to coffee and cake once a week in the village café.
Naomi lives alone, haunted by the failure of her two marriages. She works in the library, doesn’t get on with her younger colleagues, and rarely cooks herself a proper meal. Secretly she longs for a Boden frock.
When a body is discovered in the local quarry, all three women’s lives are turned upside down. And when Diana’s old flame Gill turns up unexpectedly, tensions finally spill over and threaten to destroy the outwardly peaceful lives all three women have carefully constructed around themselves.
Helen takes us back to the fictional Shropshire village of Morevale in this, her brilliant second novel which exposes the fragilities and strengths of three remarkably unremarkable elderly women.
The synopsis of the book intrigued me, what did the three women know about the body found in the local quarry? Had one or more of them been involved?
The story introduces us to the siblings, Diana and Antonia, who live together in their childhood home whilst loathing each other and Naomi, who knew them at school. All of them are living in the village they grew up in and are trapped by their past. I must admit that I didn’t like any of the three by the end of the story but I did find myself feeling sorry for them, as they had all become trapped by their reactions to past events.
The story is well written and we slowly start to find out what has happened in the past to each of the three main characters. All three have to face up to their past as the police start their investigation and old memories resurface. Although the story is sad in places, the day out in Birmingham for Antonia did make me laugh out loud, especially her visit to a fast food venue.
The message I took from the book was not to allow yourself to be stuck in an unhappy past, but to start looking forward, something we probably all need to do. See below for the purchase links so that you can also find out who the ‘old bones’ belonged to.
Helen lives in Worcester with her husband, two teenaged children and two rescue cats. Her first poetry collection was nominated for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She has published three other poetry collections and her short fiction has appeared in magazines including Ambit, Feminist Review and Stand. She holds a BA (Hons) in Humanities.
Helen’s debut novel The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson was published in March 2019. Her second “Morevale” novel, Old Bones, will be published on 16 January 2021.
Louise Walters Books: http://bit.ly/37dpwKM
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2LPuDKI
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/365gdwN
Published by Louise Walters Books in paperback and digital formats on 18th January 2021