This week Mum has been reading Hilary Boyd’s second novel Tangled Lives and she couldn’t put it down!
Annie Delancey is happily married with three grown children. But she guards a secret. Aged eighteen she had a baby boy, and gave him up for adoption.
Out of the blue, she receives an official-looking letter from Social Services. Her son wants to make contact.
As the son she has never known comes back into her life, his presence begins to expose the cracks in the family that Annie now has to try, desperately, to hold together.
I’m writing this review having finished reading this book only a few hours ago and my heartstrings are still quivering! It’s a compelling and very real story with no emotion spared and I felt that all of the characters portrayed can be related to people we know.
This is the story of Annie; a dedicated and loving wife and mother to three grown up children. Now in her early fifties, her happiness comes from her family. But there is one piece missing from the jigsaw of life – her first born son whom she gave up for adoption over thirty years ago.
This is a tale of a normal family surfing on the waves of life. Lucy, the younger of Annie’s two daughters is still living at home and at twenty-two old she still hasn’t found her true destination in life but holds out that eventually her parents will support her to fulfil her wish to share her heart with the less fortunate in the world. Lucy is kind and thoughtful and is very good at reading the emotions of her close family. Ed age 26 and Marsha (known as Mash), 25 complete the cosy family picture.
I knew immediately I was going to like this book – the prologue, set in 1967, contains such a touching description of a very young infant, that you can almost smell the baby talc! Hilary Boyd has a wonderful way with words. Her descriptions of the simplest things in life, like cooking the bacon at breakfast, give this book another dimension and really take you into Annie’s world and her characters and their different personalities and feelings are beautifully and poignantly described making this a brilliant read.
As Annie’s first son comes back into her life, we see the effects of the long-kept secret on the family unit. Ed in particular, already suffering from insecurities underneath, has a devastating effect on the family with his actions and throughout the story Annie tries to hold it all together. There were times when I could have cried for her and other times when I admired her strengths, even to the point where my stomach was in a knot and I couldn’t find an appropriate place to stop reading so that I could go and cook tea! Even with the book closed, I found I was thinking of her and her family – their issues were so real.
This book is tears, tantrums and cuddles all rolled into one and I was on the edge of my seat until the end as it was impossible to predict how the story would conclude. Hilary Boyd is a very clever author who obviously writes from the heart and I thought this was a wonderful read.
We’d like to thank Margot at Quercus for sending us a review copy of this book.
Tangled Lives is out now in paperback and ebook formats.