Sunday, August 25, 2013

With All My Love, by Patricia Scanlan

Atria Books, ISBN 9781476704517, July 2013

On the anniversary of her father's death when she was a small child, Briony McAllister, young wife and mother, is helping her mother Valerie Harris settle into her new vacation home in southern Spain. In looking through an old photo album, she discovers a letter--to herself, from her paternal grandmother, Tessa Egan.

A letter Valerie never gave her.

A letter that reveals that Valerie has lied to her for years, about the real cause of the split between the Egan and Harris families after the death of Briony's father Jeffrey.

She never saw her paternal grandparents again after the death of her father, not because, as Valerie told her, they could not bear it, but because Valerie would not allow it.

Hurt, angry, and betrayed, Briony announces that she's going to take her daughter Katie, go home to Dublin, and cut Valerie out of their lives. She cannot forgive her for depriving her of the love of her fondly-remembered Gramma and Granddad Egan. But Katie loves her grandmother, Valerie. Can Briony do to Katie what Valerie did to her?

In a series of flashbacks, we discover what happened between Valerie and Tessa, and between Valerie and her own father, and the hurt, anger, and insecurity that have affected three generations of women. Valerie's friend and Briony's godmother, Lizzie, is steadfast throughout, and a lifeline to all involved.

The characters here are all complex and don't fit into neat little boxes. The best of them have some real and painful flaws that cause distress to their loved ones, and the worst of them have real love and concern, and the desire, if not always the ability, to do what's right for their loved ones.

Some of the most painful actions come from the best of intentions.

This is a rich and rewarding novel, and a great read, whether for a summer day on the beach, or a rainy afternoon at home.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.