Two voices: a damaged mother, Josephine, remembering her past and failing to cope with the present, and her 10 year old daughter Claire, on the cusp of puberty, who takes good care of her younger brother Thomas. The publisher tells us of a dark secret which we discover on page 81, but 155 pages later it is all turned on it’s head and poor Josephine sinks into despair. She comes from a large Irish family of six siblings and has married a truly lovely man, Michael, but her drinking and depression defeat even him. Claire describes her life in minute detail and other than reacting to her mother’s mood swings she has little idea how tortured her mother is. Josephine gives us the storyline, her childhood, fleeing home, surviving in London, meeting her husband, having her children. Alcohol becomes her crutch and obviously her enemy till eventually she is forced to face her past. An interesting study of mental illness, the contrast of the two voices drives this novel forward to its bitter-sweet conclusion.
1980: Josephine escapes her home in Ireland, hoping never to return. She starts a new, exciting life in London, but as much as she tries, she can't quite leave the trauma of her childhood behind.Seventeen years and two children later, Josephine gets a call from her sister to tell her that their mother is dying and wants to see her - a summons she can't refuse.1997: Ten-year-old Clare is counting down to the summer holidays, when she is going to meet her grandparents in Ireland for the first time. She hopes this trip will be 'just what the doctor ordered' and cheer her mum up.But family secrets can't stay buried forever and following revelations in Ireland Josephine and her family unravel, perhaps to the point of no return.