Come Sunday by Isla Morley

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Come Sunday by Isla Morley

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Buy Come Sunday by Isla Morley at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: In an instant, Abbe Deighton's three-year-old daughter Cleo, is killed by a car and Abbe takes her first step on the long road of grief and blame that tears through her marriage, her friendships, her faith and her identity. A stunning, affecting debut novel from a supremely talented new author, Come Sunday is the kind of novel that forever finds a place in your heart.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Sceptre
ISBN: 978-0340976500

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Abbe Deighton is a woman displaced. Born a white South African in the heart of Swartland, Abbe is very far from her ancestral beginnings. Wife to Greg, a minister and the kind of unassuming man who is content to quietly tend his flock in the green undulating hills of Honolulu, Hawaii, Abbe's life is a reality that she would not have cared to imagine. And so the colourless wheel of Abbe's days turns; the necessities of motherhood, the grind of scraping by with too little in the bank to even so much as repair a leaky roof, never mind make life easier and the guilt of feeling thoroughly underwhelmed with her lot when others may think she has so much to be thankful for. It is a heavy mantle that Abbe knows she must stoically bear and she is frequently too 'out of sync' to hear her South African roots serenading her silently and surreptitiously.

She does not know why her thoughts frequently drift to the place that she does not want to call home but cannot fail to; and all too often she catches herself reflecting on the life of her parents and the combative state of their marriage – the belligerent rule of her father and the meek acquiescence of her mother – and Abbe realises that she too has surrendered the biggest part of herself. Though their lives could not have been more different, Abbe and Louise Spenser are more similar than she could have known.

The creeping dullness of her days lead Abbe to revisit in her mind her last years spent in South Africa, living as an evacuee from her parental home. She never forgave her mother for making the decision for Abbe to be abandoned to live with her grandmother and her witchdoctor maid at the family's fruit farm and it is, even today, a bitter pill. Her brother Rhiaan was lucky indeed to have escaped when he did. During these brief ruminations, Abbe wonders what might have been if she had not come to America to spite her family, but these ponderings are a luxury she cannot afford when their three-year-old daughter, Cleo, is hit by a car and killed in an accident that could so easily have been avoided.

The story that follows is Abbe's journey through the axis-altering grief that binds a parent who has lost a child. How can she be expected to comfort her husband in his sorrow when she can barely bring herself to open her eyes on each new day, knowing that she will be crushed under the weight of remembering what she has lost all over again? The only companion that Abbe can tolerate as she withdraws completely from the world is the rhythmic ticking of her alarm clock and the slow sweep of its hands around the numbered face, marking for her, each moment that Cleo is no longer alive. Unable to reach her in any way, Greg realises that he and Abbe have emotionally disengaged. From the depths of her despair, Abbe does not seem to know how to hold her hands out to Greg. Or whether she really wants to.

As a parent, it is incredibly hard to read a book in which a child dies. When the greatest gift you can ever have bestowed upon you is taken from you, how can you find the strength to go on? Isla Morley grew up in South Africa, during Apartheid and must have seen more than her fair share of death, suffering and sadness and in writing Come Sunday, draws upon her memories of life during her time there. She paints an incredibly vivid picture – the scenery of the veldt is breathtaking and Morley enchants you with her transparent love of the place – whilst at the same time blanketing you with Abbe's subsuming sorrow. How a writer can make you feel at once weightless with the beauty of a place and leaden with the grief of a mother shows a certain level of accomplishment in her profession.

I submerged myself within the pages. I am smitten with the way Morley writes …'She knew I loved her, didn't she?' I quaver. Can it be that this is what the blame has been about?..., the struggle her characters have with what has happened and how they are going to deal with it – and not just from the point of view of Greg and Abbe but from her friends and their family too and the hope that we are permitted to catch a fleeting glimpse of every so often, making every page a pleasure to read and the story a joy to progress through. In light of the subject matter, I should like to add how compassionately and with such care and affinity it has been handled – Morley, it seems, is an adept, intelligent writer and this, her debut, is more than worthy of your attention.

Honestly, I'm not sure how much a person's heart can take having read such a moving tale, but if you should wish to stay within this emotive subject matter, may I recommend The Memory Keeper's Daughter and also Douglas Kennedy's rather superb Leaving the World, a beautiful, solitary tale about the arbitrary nature of destiny and how one woman navigates her way through all that fate throws in her path.

Lastly, our sincerest thanks go to the ladies and gentlemen at Sceptre for sending this copy to Bookbag for review.

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Buy Come Sunday by Isla Morley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Come Sunday by Isla Morley at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Come Sunday by Isla Morley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Come Sunday by Isla Morley at Amazon.com.

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Carol said:

I could not put this book down – but at the same time, I did not want it to end!

I smiled, I cried, I laughed, I winced, I blushed, I guessed.....wrong......I begrudged being forced to put it down.....I stole a sentence at a traffic light. I sighed, I remembered.

I LOVED IT!

I can’t wait to hear more from Isla Morley!

Carol Won by One