Today I am VERY happy to welcome Eva Holland to the blog to tell us about her writing hero. Following that a little review from me of the book which was really very excellent. Over to Eva!
My writing hero
Margaret Atwood has been part of my life for twenty years now. I have never met her, but that is one of the wonderful things about writing heroes: we don’t have to meet them to be touched by them.
Why Margaret Atwood? It was The Handmaid’s Tale that started it. I read it for the first time twenty years ago. I had a Saturday job in a library (yes, I can confirm it was the Saturday Job of Dreams). When the library was quiet I would read the blurbs on the backs of the returned books before I put them on their shelves, setting any that caught my eye aside to take home. The Handmaid’s Tale was one of those books. I remember reading the back cover and sensing that here was a book unlike anything I had read before. I started it on the bus on the way home and didn’t stop until I finished it at four o’clock the next morning. I was hooked by the power of Atwood’s imagination, the fearlessness with which she created a world so dark and full of terror that it slipped into my dreams for weeks. Bleary eyed the next day I found Cat’s Eye on a bookshelf at home – it had been sitting there, waiting for me. I haven’t stopped reading her since and I don’t imagine I ever will.
From the nightmarish landscapes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake to the claustrophobic and menacing female friendships of Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride, Atwood’s stories are teeming with life, with characters so real that they live on long after I have turned the last page. She moves from horror to humour with words so beautiful that they make me shiver, slipping seemingly effortlessly from the 1843 of Alias Grace to a distant future, from speculative fiction to crime. I think this is why she is among the tiny handful of authors I read and loved as a teenager and still read and love today.
If you are new to Atwood I envy you. You have several worlds of treasure to explore. Why not start with her recent short story collection, Stone Mattress? Then Alias Grace, then Cat’s Eye, then Oryx and Crake, then… Oh, just read all of them. You won’t regret it.
Publication Date: Available Now from Orion.
My daughter is a liar. A liar, liar, liar. And I’m starting to see where she gets it from.
When Rosalind’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie, ran away with her teacher, this ordinary family became something it had never asked to be. Their lives held up to scrutiny in the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms were headline news while Stephanie was missing with a man who was risking everything.
Now, six years on, Ros takes a call that will change their lives all over again. He’s going to be released from prison. Years too early. In eleven days’ time.
I really loved The Daughters Secret. For starters it was a bit of a departure in plot from the plethora of (mostly great) family drama novels I’ve read this year and had a particular depth and resonance to it that really appealed to me.
Eva Holland uses the past/present timeline to great effect here, painting a picture of the rifts in the family caused by her daughter absconding with her teacher years before, and now when he is about to be released from prison, putting new and deeply disturbing pressures on an already ruptured dynamic.
There is a great perception to the writing as we see the different ways the characters try to deal with the issues – none of them are particularly practical or indeed particularly likeable, but they are eminently realistic with an intuitively drawn depth that really gets you inside the issues. Ros especially, full of anxiety and neurosis, as the story unfolds and you see flashes of the home life Stephanie had, you begin to understand that there is more to things than meets the eye.
I was intrigued mostly by what would happen when Nate was released. Would Stephanie see him again? In that sense it was a real page turner and I was engaged all the way through. A story ripped straight from the headlines, imagnining the people behind the drama, The Daughters Secret was compelling, often sad and very authentic with a spot on pitch perfect ending.
Find out more here: http://evaholland.net/
Follow the author on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/HollandEva
Happy Reading Folks!