Thank you to Emma of Damppebbles blog tours for the invite on to the blog tour for The Darlings by Angela Jackson. If you get chance, do check out the other bloggers thoughts on the tour.
About the Book
THE DARING NEW NOVEL FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE EMERGENCE OF JUDY TAYLOR
When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.
He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.
One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?
This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.
What I thought
I really enjoyed this book, it was a brilliant read.
More often than not if there’s marriage infidelity as part of a plot then the protagonist is usually the one who’s been cheated on. We, the reader, won’t have an awful lot of sympathy for the adulterer and they, more often than not won’t play a big part in the book.
Not so in this book. Mark is the protagonist here and it is mainly Mark’s side of things that we hear about with Mark being the one playing away from home. Yet you can’t help but feel, I don’t know, perhaps not sympathy, but certainly have an understanding of how he got himself into such an unforgivable situation.
His wife Sadie is pregnant. It’s taken a lot of time, heartache, not to mention money after having IVF treatment, but now she is finally pregnant and very happy. Mark was reasonably happy up to this point. As it says in the blurb, while still at school he killed his best friend by accident on the sports field and Mark has never forgiven himself for that even though it was a freak accident and not his fault. He still suffers tremendous guilt and doesn’t think very highly of himself.
On a chance encounter he meets Ruby. Ruby went to the same school as Mark and she witnessed the accident. From here on in we watch what is a car crash set of circumstances that lead Mark further and further into an impossible situation. It’s often funny, albeit a somewhat dark humour, but with a deep underlying feeling of sadness. You end up feeling sad for Mark, for his wife Sadie and to a certain extent Ruby, after all you can’t help falling in love. Though I did think at times that Ruby’s love verged on stalkerish.
I’ll say no more. It’s a fantastic plot with some great characters and brilliant writing. I liked Sadie’s younger 15 year old sister Ava who adds a lot of humour to the narrative. There’s Mark’s friends who try to make him see sense and Sadie’s Mum and Dad have a part to play later on in the book.
I would definitely read more by this author as I do like her style of writing and the humour. Definitely worthy of 5 stars, it kept me entertained from beginning to end.
♥ Happy Reading ♥
The book was published by Lightning Books on 22May 2021 in e-book and 21 June in paperback and is available from the following book sellers:-
Angela Jackson is a former psychology lecturer and teacher trainer. Her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award and was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year.
The Darlings is her second novel.
Originally from the north of England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh.