Reviewed by: Mardi Stewart
“Isabel Ashdown’s debut novel is accomplished, accessible and absorbing.
Set in the 1950s and 1980s around Portsmouth it tells of a family’s disintegration following past betrayals, lies and alcoholism. The end is tragic, the novel, funny, racy and full of local colour. Skipping back and forth between the decades first person narration is shared by Mary and her son, Jake. Mary’s descent into alcoholism reflects her strict upbringing, which quelled her intelligent and adventurous makeup. Jake, by contrast is a lively thirteen year old as responsible as his mother is, at times, feckless. Both Mary and Jake come alive on the page as well rounded believable characters.
Achingly sad at times this novel is a skilful portrayal of issues that exist in the lives of ordinary people. The prologue is particularly well written showing considerable literary talent. The various social issues addressed in this most enjoyable novel should appeal to personal and group readers alike.”