Today I’m handing over the reins to Mandie who has a review of The Dragonfly by Kate Dunn. Before we hear Mandie’s thoughts, here’s what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
When Colin discovers his son is on a murder charge in France, he trails his small boat, ‘The Dragonfly’, across the channel to stay in Paris to try and help him. There he meets his grand-daughter – the irrepressible Delphine – for the first time. They embark on an exciting boat journey through the picturesque French canals, heading south through Burgundy, ‘until the butter melts’.
Along the way, they catch up with Tyler, a spirited American, and through various mishaps and misunderstandings, they land big fish, cultivate new loves and uncover a burning secret.
But can Colin finally help his son get off the hook?
The Dragonfly by Kate Dunn tells the story of a man trying to connect with his estranged son and the granddaughter he never knew after the death of his daughter-in law. It explores the dynamics of a dysfunctional family, trying to find their way to pull together during a trying time.
After receiving information that his son Michael has been arrested for the murder of his wife, Colin packs up his things and takes his boat the Dragonfly to France. Now I am not sure that the most sensible thing to do when faced with a small child that you don’t know would be to take her sailing, but that is exactly what Colin does.
From the start you sense that Colin is like a fish out of water where small children are concerned. He is initially motivated by a sense of guilt that when his son was younger he did not fight harder to remain part of his life after he split from his wife. Determined to make up for his past mistakes he initially sets out to try to get his son out of prison, as no matter what he is positive that his son had no part in his wife’s death and it must have been an accident. When he goes to see his granddaughter he has to contend with her angry grandmother who is quite sure that Michael is not innocent. He has no idea how to handle the small girl and finds himself quite often making mistakes. You have to feel sorry for Colin as he is trying desperately to do the right thing. Whenever you think of a single parent it is quite often the mother that is the main focus so the fact that this time you have a grandfather who didn’t even really have much say in the upbringing of his own child makes for a refreshing change. Added to this you have the confines of a small boat and a language barrier and you have quite a few awkward moments.
Delphine at times is what you could only describe as a brat. Most children can be from time to time. That being said she has been through a lot in a short space of time. She has witnessed her mother’s accident, been separated from her father, and then passed from her elderly grandmother to spend time on boat with a grandfather she doesn’t know. You can sense the struggle within the small child, part of her is determined to remain aloof and distant, blaming her grandfather and the world for the position she is in, yet part of her is desperate for the love and attention from family. For every one step forward Colin gets with her breaking down the barriers something happens that seems to set them two steps back. There are also times throughout the story that you sense that Delphine may have witnessed more to the accident that she has let on and this is having an effect on her behaviour
Throughout the story you also get to see the developing relationship between Michael and his cellmate Laroche. Clearly out of his depth in a French Prison somehow he finds a way to connect with the man and in return for helping with his studies, Laroche helps him cope with prison life. You get the sense that like Delphine, Michael is hiding something as he seems very unwilling to help himself and seems resigned to a life behind bars.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Dragonfly. At times it had me laughing at the mishaps that befell Colin and Delphine as they sailed along the canals, but it also had me guessing as to what exactly happened to Charlotte and what secrets Delphine and Michael were hiding. The author did not shy away from the realities of broken homes and family issues that stem from estrangements. I look forward to reading more from Kate Dunn in the future.
With thanks to author Kate Dunn for the advance copy of The Dragonfly for review. It is available to purchase now from the folliwing retailers.
Kate Dunn comes from a long line of writers and actors: her great-great-grandfather Hugh Williams was a Welsh chartist who published revolutionary poetry, her grandfather, another Hugh Williams, was a celebrated film star and playwright and she is the niece of the poet Hugo Williams and the actor Simon Williams.
Kate has acted in repertory, toured around Britain, the Far and Middle East and appeared in three West End plays, as well as a number of television productions. She has a PhD in Drama from Manchester University.
Following the birth of her son Jack she turned to writing and has had four books published:
Always and Always – the Wartime Letters of Hugh and Margaret Williams
Exit Through the Fireplace – The Great Days of Rep
Do Not Adjust Your Set – The Early Days of Live Television.