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Book Review : Tell It To The Skies

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December 2008 

Tell It To The Skies by author Erica James

Reviewed by Kathryn Moss

As is often the case where an established author writes something a bit different “Tell It To The Skies” has received mixed reviews, however I found it to be a gripping novel that deals with dark subjects such as child abuse in a way that gives us hope. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Our heroine Lydia is courageous and sensitive as all good heroines should be and her story begins in Venice, where at the age of 40 she is content with her home, work, friends, and the company of her stepdaughter Chiara, whose father had died several years before. However, her life gets turned upside-down at the chance sighting of a young man who is the spitting image of Lydia’s childhood sweetheart Noah, long since lost to her. The shock of it causes her to fall and badly sprain her ankle, and whilst convalescing her extraordinary story starts to emerge. It is a rather contrived coincidence that Noah’s clone becomes Chiara’s new boyfriend, however it does create a platform for the past to catch up with the present, providing resolution for those still alive.

Back we go to 1968, where in the aftermath of Lydia’s father’s death her mother’s mental state deteriorates rapidly, resulting in her tragic suicide, which Lydia saw as her fault. Having already been more of a mother to her younger sister Valerie, Lydia now became fiercely protective but could not stop social services from arranging for them both to go and live in Yorkshire with grandparents they had never met.

The book now describes at length a grim childhood for both sisters, who survive and cope as best they can. Their grandfather is cruel and violent and their grandmother lives in fear of him. They belong to a strict religious sect full of dubious individuals with the occasional shining light such as Sister Lottie. The way that this environment affects the two sisters differently is really intriguing and well developed, making the reader eager to know what happens to them. As time goes by Lydia finds first friendship and then love with Noah, another misfit who comes to live in Swallowsdale. She is first bullied by and then forms an unlikely friendship with Donna, loud and uncouth but fundamentally good-hearted.

Time moves on and events unfold that will change everything. The book progresses towards a disturbing crescendo, after which misunderstandings occur that force Lydia and Noah apart, not to be reunited until decades later. In fact Lydia is forced to leave everything behind and start a new life in Italy, where for some time she waits to hear from Noah little realising that the scene she left hadn’t worked out quite as she planned. So eventually she picks herself up and gets on with her life, hurt but not defeated.

You might think it romantic idealism that Noah comes back into Lydia’s life, a nice contrived happy ending, but hey why not, these things do happen!! Plus of course it’s not quite that simple…

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