Laura Wilkinson

‘The Family Line’ by Laura Wilkinson #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT #BookReview

#RBRT Review Team

I reviewed ‘The Family Line’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

family-line

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Megan is a former foreign correspondent whose life is thrown into turmoil when her son is diagnosed with a terminal illness: a degenerative disease passed down the mother’s line. In order to save him, Megan will have to unearth the truth about her origins and about a catastrophic event from the past. She must confront the strained relationship she has with her mother, make sense of the family history that has been hidden from her all her life, and embark on a journey of self-discovery that stretches halfway around the world. Set in a much-changed Britain in the mid-twenty-first century, The Family Line is the debut novel from acclaimed writer Laura Wilkinson, now revised and proudly reissued by Accent Press.

This is a really clever idea for a novel. There are some diverse and very interesting themes going on here – the rather grim future in store for us if we don’t change our ways, the harm that secrets and lies can do, the consequences of thinking only of ourselves, and the strength there is in family and love.

The book begins in 2048, the world coping with the consequences of climate change and the aftermath of a terrible plague. Megan, a correspondent, is pregnant and returns home to her native Wales to live with her mother. The details of how the world has changed are subtly done, introduced through the way the characters live and their surroundings. This works really well.

We then move forward a few years to Megan finding out that her son has a degenerative disease. Megan needs to delve into her family’s past in order to find a way to save him. Her mother has always been secretive, but circumstances force her to tell Megan the truth, and what she recalls takes Megan to Romania to discover their true origins.

I did have a couple of issues with this novel. It was very slow to get started and did drag a little. I didn’t really engage with it until I came to Elizabeth’s story. It was here that the narrative seemed to come alive. The build up to the plague and the devastating consequences was brilliantly done and really gripping. Elizabeth is a fantastic character, warm, three-dimensional and relatable. I didn’t feel like this about Megan however, and found her very difficult to like. She seemed selfish and her lack of empathy or sympathy for Elizabeth made it hard for me to care about her. She was too hard and too cold and while she may have had reason to be so, those reasons didn’t come across clearly enough for me to like her.

I also felt that the storyline around her son was wrapped up too quickly. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers, but it just seemed too easy.

That said, there are parts of this novel that are absolutely brilliant, really page-turning and emotional. Elizabeth’s grief and suffering is harrowing to read and so well done. Laura Wilkinson is a great storyteller, and this book has a lot to commend it. She’s certainly an author to look out for.

4 stars

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‘Redemption Song’ by Laura Wilkinson #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT @ScorpioScribble

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed ‘Redemption Song’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

redemption song

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Saffron and her mother Rain have moved to North Wales to start again after a tragedy that has caused them heartbreak, guilt, and confusion. Joe is also running, trying to escape a past that haunts him while simultaneously bent on revenge.

The story is told from three different points of view – Saffron, Rain and Joe. In many novels, this can be confusing, but Laura Wilkinson is a skilful writer and the point of view changes are seamless, with each character having their own distinct voice. The different points of view give a fresh perspective on many of the issues facing the characters and the conflicts between them.

The author has a real ability to give a sense of time and place. Small town North Wales was authentically portrayed and the other characters – Saffy’s new friend Ceri and her father in particular- are a joy to read, honestly portrayed and entertaining. The oppression and depression of a Welsh winter, the drabness of a seaside town off-season are beautifully contrasted with descriptions of the beauty of the countryside in sunshine and snow.

This isn’t a fast-paced drama. The histories of the characters come out slowly, the reader discovering things along with Saffy, Rain and Joe. This works well for the most part, but was a little frustrating at times.

The characters are, for the most part, easy to sympathise with. Rain is lovely, kind and caring if a little OTT at times, but her love for her daughter is clear. Joe too, while mysterious, is genuine and honest, and you know that whatever has happened in the past, there must be a good reason for it! Saffy, however, left me feeling conflicted. She seems very selfish, and is quite horrible to her lovely mum. This would be more understandable if Saffy was a teenager, but she is in her twenties and is studying to be a doctor. The stroppy, selfish, tantrum-throwing side of her character doesn’t seem to fit and I wondered why it didn’t put Joe off.

I also feel that the back stories aren’t developed enough. I don’t want to give too much away but Joe’s issues are dealt with a little too neatly and conveniently for me. This aspect of the plot could have been given more depth and detail.

The writing is solid, however, and it’s a well-crafted and enjoyable read.

4 stars