Monday 3 March 2014

Mother Mother - Koren Zailckas
I was torn when it came to starting this debut novel. I have had such a brilliant weekend of reading, The Abduction and Irene are a hard act to follow. I really wasn't sure if I should choose something a little less thriller-y from my heap. This had been calling to me though and I really though it was time I met the Hursts. I'm very very glad I did. Wow is this a dysfunctional family. William is a precocious, apparently autistic pre teen, home schooled and tied to the apron strings of his doting mother. Violet is struggling to maintain control of her life, and is stoned more often than not. Rose hasn't been in touch with her family since 'running away' eighteen months before the story opens. Duncan is an alcoholic trying to keep dry, and avoiding his family as much as he can. Outwardly Josephine seems to be the strong matriarch holding this ragtag family together, that is until she is alone with her family. As soon as the front door shuts she is a terrifying and manipulative monster. When I say that, I am not exaggerating. The character of Josephine is superb. sociopath but still superb. The control she exerts over her family is dramatic and chilling. The way she manipulates each member of the family is calculating and totally plausible.Her relationships with her family are totally messed up.... I mean totally out of line. She is deeply abusive towards her husband and daughters, and seems to alternate CIA style torture techniques with over bearing displays of inappropriate affection towards William.
When the story opens, Violet is in the process of being committed to a local psych ward following a bad trip, and after she attacked her brother. William is trying to remember just what happened on the night of the argument. As the chapters switch between these two characters it becomes clear that none of them can trust their version of events. Nothing has been as it seems and anytime when Josephine has been involved is potentially open to misinterpretation.
The story unfolds and it becomes clear that things really aren't as they appear. Is William really as sick as Josephine says? Is Violet really a violent drug addict? Most importantly why has Rose suddenly started to write to her sister after suck a long silence. Will anyone in authority realise just how twisted Josephine actually is?
I found this to be an entirely gripping read; once I started I just couldn't put it down. I ended up reading through until 1am just so I could get to the devastating conclusion. This is not a book to read if you have something else to be getting on with.....

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