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Shortlisted for the best First Book Award of the Africa Region Commonwealth Writer's Prize and longlisted for the South Africa Times Fiction Prize.
Isla Morley grew up in South Africa during apartheid. By the mid-90s she was one of the youngest magazine editors in South Africa but moved to the States where she now lives with her husband and daughter.
Each person's grief is unique and, as with an accident along the side of the road, everyone slows down to witness another's suffering, thinking, "That could easily have been me." Clearly, there is a market for books that provide this sense of vicarious suffering and ultimately empowering self-discovery, and this debut novel about grief and repurposing one's life after tremendous loss fits the mold. It begins with a sense of foreboding and a dark secret tied to the protagonist's family farm in South Africa (where the author was born). Abbe Deighton has since fled her homeland and now lives with her husband and young daughter in Hawaii. She chafes in her role as minister's wife and suburban mother and is unhappy without really being able to pin down why. When her daughter's accidental death tears her life apart, Abbe must return to South Africa in order to discover the truth about her own mother and to begin healing. The character development in this novel is quite engaging, but ultimately the plot is somewhat predictable. Recommended for larger collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/09.]-Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
A wonderful first novel, beautifully written and completely engrossing... I look forward to her next book. * New Books * Come Sunday grips your heart from the first page and doesn't let go. Isla Morley takes us on an unforgettable journey from the hills of Hawaii to the plains of South Africa, daring us to join her as she crosses racial and cultural divides. A heart-wrenching tale of unthinkable loss and hard-won healing, this is a novel to savor, like the lingering notes of a fine wine. * Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants * Morley convincingly depicts a grief-stricken woman without resorting to cliches . . . the storytelling, line by line, is rather beautiful. * Publishers Weekly * Morley brings a pathos palpable in its authenticity and a maturity arresting in its conviction. [Her] poignant, read-in-onesitting tale of loss and renewal will haunt readers. * Booklist *
In her poignant first novel, former South African magazine editor Morley explores a mother's grief. Abbe Deighton, part-time journalist and full-time wife and mother, finds herself living in Hawaii with her preacher husband, Greg, and precocious three-year-old daughter, Cleo, thousands of miles from her South African birthplace. Her flight from an abusive father and complicit mother is not accidental-her poet brother also fled to America-and when Cleo is killed in a car accident, Abbe re-examines the choices that have brought her so far from home. She and her husband become estranged as he turns to God and forgives the man who killed their daughter while Abbe descends into self-pity and anger at the unfairness of life. Their marriage suffers and Greg loses his job, forcing Abbe to turn homeward for financial help. Upon returning to South Africa, she confronts the ghosts of her family's past and the reality of her homeland's future. Morley convincingly depicts a grief-stricken woman without resorting to cliches, and though she telegraphs the resolution of Abbe's plight early on, the storytelling, line by line, is rather beautiful. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.