Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Absent Wife by Karen Gillece

A GIRL with a lovely name: Star Anise Quick. She never knew who her father was – her mother, Jean, told her Africa was her father, and all the children of Africa were her brothers and sisters.
When Jean is dying, though, she finally tells Star that her father is Leo Quick, an Irish portrait painter.
Star makes her way to Dalkey, and everything changes.
Leo has brought up his two children, Silvia and James. He didn’t know Jean was pregnant when she left, and when Star phones, he’s just had a stroke.
He’s been eaten away for years by a secret he can’t unravel: why did Jean leave him and their children?
James is a TV celeb who’s trying to get all the wealth he can generate up his nose.
Silvia is the good girl who minds her dad as he needs it, but has her mother’s addictive liking for uncommitted sex.
Gillece’s delicate writing unfolds all these layers of stories, dancing back and forth between past and present.
She layers in current news stories – Natascha Kampusch and the British teacher who was jailed for calling a teddy bear Muhammad make appearances – and drops in luscious scents and flavours.
As the family reclaim the daughter and sister they didn’t know about, they’re also reclaiming the wife and mother who disappeared.
For Star, and for Leo’s close friend Hugh, it’s another reclamation, of the wrong that couldn’t be righted, and the bond that couldn’t be broken.
Gillece gets better with every book. She’s finding her style as a writer of contemplative, incisive novels, but she hasn’t hit her pace quite yet.
This is a book for the bedside, to be savoured and talked about with friends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A beautifully crafted, absorbing story about a wife/ mother suffering from Bi Polar Disorder.
Ms Gillece's compassionate portrayal of Jean, the mother,gives the reader an insight into this mood disorder and its devastating effects on relationships with family and loved ones. A compelling read.