I love when a book grabs me from the first page and Koren Zailckas’s debut novel Mother, Mother did just that.This is a skilfully crafted and suspenseful dark story about a very disturbed family. The writing is beautifully controlled — the tension builds gradually and every sentence moves the story forward. The characters are believable and the suspense is maintained right to the end of the novel. Did I say I loved this book?
On the surface, the Hursts maintain the appearance of a normal family. The father, Douglas, works for an IT company and appears to lead a normal life. But Douglas is an alcoholic who doesn’t pay enough attention to what is going on in his own house.
Meanwhile, the mother, Josephine, raises our suspicions from the very first page where we see the first of many signs that all is not quite right in her relationship with her youngest child, William.
William finds himself at the centre of a family storm that brings the Child Protection Service into the Hurst family but not before his older sister, Violet, finds herself locked up in a psychiatric hospital.
Meanwhile William’s eldest sister, Rose, has apparently left home to live with a boyfriend, Damien Koch but it quickly becomes clear that all was not well in Rose’s family relationships. The question is, where is Rose? Is she lurking just out of sight and playing tricks on Josephine? Has she been having an illicit affair with a married man? Or has she simply set up home and found a new life with Damien?
Koren Zailckas’s inspiration for Mother, Mother is apparently drawn from her own childhood. Whatever her inspiration, she has written a cracker of a first novel. Let’s hope we see more from her soon!
Mother, Mother is published by Crown.[Disclosure: An advance reader’s copy was provided by the publisher.]
If you like this type of fiction, you might also like The Accident by CL Taylor.