Today on my ‘Read a Bookouture a Day’ feature I look back at two of Bookouture’s more emotional dramas, ‘Sleep Sister’ by Laura Elliot and ‘A Mother’s Secret’ by Renita D’Silva. These two books both explore the subject of family and the devastating impact that secrets kept can have upon them. Each one takes the reader on an emotional journey, and the characters and their stories will live on long after the book is closed.
The Official Book Blurb
Two childhoods destroyed.
One story they will never tell.
Beth ran away from her family when she was a teenager. She left behind a terrible evil that took her innocence. She also left behind her sister, Sara.
When Beth returns home, she is shocked to discover her terrible secret is not just hers alone…she shares it with Sara. Under the shadow of a remote headland, the sisters make an oath they promise never to break.
Eva’s birth is a mystery that remains unsolved. Years later with her marriage in ruins, and her future uncertain, she realizes that to move forward with her life, she must first understand her past.
But while Eva is drawing closer to the truth about her roots, Beth and Sara’s lives are falling apart, crushed under the weight of the secret they carry. They must confront the past and face the darkness once more. But this time, their story will be heard.
From the bestselling author of The Betrayal, Stolen Child and Fragile Lies, comes a breathtakingly tense and emotional story of the fierce bond between sisters, and a family destroyed by a disturbing secret.
Set in Ireland, ‘Sleep Sister’ is the story of Beth and Sara, two young sisters who grow up to be two very different women. When their father leaves the family home, he leaves the girls with their mother, a fierce woman who uses a cane that Beth christens ‘Charlie’ in order to instil discipline. But far scarier than Charlie is the monster who visits Beth at night, destroying her childhood. When Beth flees her home at sixteen to go and find her father, she doesn’t understand the devastating and life changing impact this will have upon her younger sister Sara.
This is a highly emotive story, touching on the subject of abuse, physical and worse, and the emotional impact this has upon the two sisters as adults. While Beth develops an inner strength, a way to move on and leave her traumatic childhood behind, the scars that Sara bears are much deeper and unfortunately more devastating. This book touches upon child abuse but not in a gratuitous way, told more through the eyes of a child describing the monsters in the only way she knows how. And it is very topical in that it considers the subject of power and authority as a way for abusers to control and manipulate those that they hurt. The characterisations are beautiful and the story so sympathetically told that you cannot help but feel for the young women, and for Eva, a woman who goes in search of a birth mother she never knew. A heart-wrenching and yet truly engaging story.
About the Author
Laura Elliot is the author of over twelve novels, which have been translated in many languages, including German, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian and Lithuanian. She has written for television, radio and stage – and gives regular workshops on creative writing.
The Official Book Blurb
What if you discovered that everything you knew about yourself was a lie?
When pregnant Jaya loses her mother, then her baby son Arun in a tragic cot death, her world crashes down. Overcome by grief and guilt, she begins to search for answers – to the enigma of her lonely, distant mother, and her mysterious past in India.
Looking through her mother’s belongings, she finds two diaries and old photographs, carrying the smoky aroma of fire. A young boy smiles out at Jaya from every photograph – and in one, a family stand proudly in front of a sprawling mansion. Who is this child? And why did her mother treasure this memento of a regal family lost to the past?
As Jaya starts to read the diaries, their secrets lead her back to India, to the ruin of a once grand house on a hill. There, Kali, a mad old lady, will unlock the story of a devastating lie and a fire that tore a family apart.
Nothing though will prepare Jaya for the house’s final revelation, which will change everything Jaya knew about herself.
‘A Mother’s Secret’ by Renita D’Silva is the story of Jaya, who following the death of her mother, decides to try and find out more about her past. She knows nothing of her father, or her mother’s family, and when she finds some clues in her mother’s belongings, nothing can quite prepare her for what she will discover. And in learning more about Jaya’s past, we are also introduced to Kali, an old woman living in a derelict house in India, who holds the true key to the past.
This is a very emotional and beautifully written story and my full review can be found here. The prose is so descriptive, almost poetic, and the imagery that Renita D’Silva conjures up is so vivid that you can picture the scene perfectly. The characterisations are perfect, the observations of Kali, a common servant girl who goes on to become mistress of the house brilliant. As a reader, you almost live their love and losses with them. The relationship Kali develops with Durga when she is older is touching and through the young child’s kindness, some of the devastating rifts in the family begin to heal. This is a tragically beautiful tale, that really captured my imagination and my heart. I wanted nothing more than to keep reading and willed both Kali and Jaya’s mother, Sudha, to a happy ending that I knew neither could ever know.
About the Author
Renita grew up in a picturesque coastal village in the South of India, the oldest of three children. Her father got her first story books when she was six and she fell in love with the world of stories. Even now she prefers that world, by far, to this.