Sunday, 27 April 2014

Things We Never Say - Sheila O'Flanagan

I was sent a copy of this book by Frances Gough at Headline Review via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

About the book...

The irresistible new novel from No. 1 bestselling author Sheila O'Flanagan. Abbey Andersen is the last person to go looking for change. Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days - but in San Francisco she has great friends, a steady relationship and a job she enjoys. When Abbey is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan she learns in an instant everything she believed about her roots is a lie. She must travel to Dublin to find out more - but she's scarcely off the plane when she's plunged into a new crisis. One that will change everything not just for Abbey but for the family in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed. Now Abbey has to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows. How can she be sure she makes the right one? And can life ever be quite the same again?

About the author...

A Dubliner all my life. My parents owned a grocery shop in the Iveagh Markets, in the Liberties area of the city and I guess city blood runs through my veins. 

As a child I enjoyed reading and telling stories, and everyone thought that my future career would have something to do with books and literature. But though I applied for a job in the library all of the job offers I got were in commerce.

I turned down lots of them before my mother accepted one for me (I was on holiday at the time). It was in the Central Bank of Ireland and that’s how my career in financial services began. 

In my spare time I still loved reading, and I desperately wanted to write my own book. I guess I never quite got over the fact that I was never offered the library job! In my thirties I decided that it was now or never and I sat down, stuck Chapter 1 on a page, and started. I wrote the whole thing before sending it off to an Irish publishing company.

I was offered a publishing deal (with no advance) by them, but only if I wrote a different book! So it was back to the drawing board. I started again and wrote Dreaming of a Stranger. It was another two years before it was published. It wasn’t until I’d written a few books and was offered a contract (this time with an advance) from another publisher that I felt able to give up my trading job and write full time. So I eventually realised my dream of being a full-time writer.

Visit: Sheila O'Flanagans Website or follow on twitter @sheilaoflanagan

My thoughts...

I've always been a fan of chic lit using it as an antidote to my other favourite genre - psychological thrillers or reading at times when there's too much going on in my life and I'm looking for a comfort read.  Sheila O'Flanagan has always been included in what I call my 'comfort blanket' authors. I know whenever I pick up one of her novels I'm going to get a  nice, easy read that touches on real life issues but invariably turns out nice in the end - a real feel good book thats not all pink and fluffy.

This book was no exception, it is set in both Ireland and San Francisco where Abbey Anderson gets dragged into the world of the Fitzpatrick family after Fred the elderly father of the Fitzpatrick's develops a fixation with the Magdalene Laundries and sends an investigator to find Abbey's mother with the intention of bringing her to Ireland for him to make his piece and right a wrong. I liked the fact that the heart of this story was historically an unspeakable subject - many women suffered at the hands of the nuns in Ireland in the Magdalene laundries/asylums. 

This book is all about family dynamics, sibling rivalry along with honesty, trust and communication.  Abbey unwittingly finds herself at the centre of a family that is being held together by threads.  I think Sheila's descriptions are particularly vivid. I could see each of the family members as clearly as if she was describing people I know.  Although I would have liked some of them to have a little more depth. I did also really enjoy the chapters set in San Francisco and Dublin having visited both of these cities myself I could clearly visualise the settings which enhanced my reading. 

Although I didn't like all of the characters and in fact my opinion didn't alter throughout the whole book for some, I could see how their behaviour and attitude suited their role within the story.  Family dynamics are different in every family with pride and stubbornness playing a big part in this family. I didn't take to Donald in particular although I did feel his attitude was one of the most realistic. I could feel his passion and anger lifting from the page - honour and standing within the family was all too apparent, he really was blinkered both in the beginning and he really was no different at the end of the story either. He couldn't seem to see beyond his own situation -  greed and pride overpowering all other emotions.

This story demonstrates how we should take time to think beyond today and about the possible consequences of our actions.  Thinking with your head or heart is not enough, usually your gut instinct is the right one. As in this book time, quiet and space will usually allow for balanced decisions. 

I look forward to reading Sheila O'Flanagans next novel If You Were Me due out in July this year.

I gave this book 4/5 stars

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