|Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This novel centres around Laurel Lockwood and her family. She's made some major mistakes in her life - and is now doing her best to make amends - but can she?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: May 2010|
We're first introduced to Laurel's son, Andy. He's a teenager with some sort of mental disorder. He's the pivotal character of the story and he's also the undisputed star. I recently read Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb and decided that every family should have a Henry. Now I'll enlarge on that by saying that every family should have a Henry - or an Andy. Both of these teenagers are 99% innocent and adorable - it's that other 1% that is worrying. Andy's descriptions of people, places and situations are truly unique. He has a language all of his own. So immediately, as a reader, I was drawn right into the world of Andy and therefore right into the heart of the story.
Laurel also has a daughter, Maggie but the reader soon discovers that Andy gets all the attention, to the detriment of his elder sister. It's almost as if he has two mothers fussing over him constantly. Laurel is a single mother. All is fine until a major event occurs. There's no going back to the cosy family routine for the Lockwoods. Each chapter is in the first person and gives the main characters a chance to state their account of things. It works extremely well. The chronology teeters back and forth which makes for an interesting and enjoyable read. It also keeps the reader on his/her toes. Chamberlain has a lovely, easy style. She's very more-ish.
Bit by bit pieces of the Lockwood family jig-saw are put together. We find out about past situations and how for example, a husband, a father, a brother-in-law deal with very difficult times.
Chamberlain has painted an intricate landscape for the characters. Like The Bay At Midnight the chosen location is coastal with some lovely, descriptive lines from Chamberlain bringing alive the tang of the sea, those magnificent coastal vistas etc. And although the area in the main is middle-class America, Laurel tells us that There were many poor people living amidst our wealth ...
Big, chunky chapters are given over to Laurel and her life pre-children. We discover, in detail, why she is now a single parent. That said, her absent husband is very much the elephant in the room, throughout the novel. I got the distinct impression that Laurel is only half a person. And she's also not coping with life. Andy manages to bring fame, fear, terror, suspicion (I could go on) to the family home. Times are truly difficult. And Chamberlain uses her knowledge as a former psychotherapist well in this novel. There's a moving and very telling piece about Andy at airport security.
And headstrong Maggie appears to be duplicating the mistakes of her mother. We see a family in melt-down. But can they recover?
Chamberlain has introduced big issues which most of us can identify with at some level. It's also about us, as human beings, addressing our own issues. Chamberlain illustrates in this novel that some issues can easily be passed down from one generation to the next, if not initially addressed. Strong stuff.
The plot is intriguing. It twists and turns like the proverbial yellow brick road. And ... there is one big sting in the tail right at the end. This is an immensely enjoyable read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon.com.
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