Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson

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Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Do we ever know our parents? Melissa discovers that her mother had an affair with a famous writer and her investigations into what happened on Corfu reveal a great deal about herself. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Arrow Books
ISBN: 978-0099505198

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Melissa's mother was losing her memory. The times when she was lucid were few and far between and in one of the last of these moments Elizabeth presented her daughter with a book inscribed by the writer Julian Adie, poet, traveller and novelist, which suggested that there had been some sort of relationship between the two. Melissa knew nothing about this. It wasn't her only problem though. Her marriage was falling apart. Richard had had an affair and Melissa was finding it very difficult to forgive, to try and get the marriage back on a solid footing again, to decide if she even wanted the marriage to continue.

Deborah Lawrenson was inspired to write this book when she rediscovered Prospero's Cell by Lawrence Durrell. Durrell described it as a diary of his time in Corfu in the nineteen thirties with his first wife, but Deborah Lawrenson was struck by what Durrell left out as much as by what he included. Durrell married four times and his life was a complex web of relationships, some more enduring than others, as he rocketed around the Mediterranean. She thought not of Durrell but of the women whose lives collided with his – and Julian Adie and Elizabeth Milne were created.

The novel could be read as a fictionalised account of Durrell's life but I preferred to disregard the connection and enjoy what is a very, very good story. Elizabeth Milne left England for Corfu to avoid the scandal of a cancelled wedding and an abortion. Better, she thought, to accept that she didn't love her fiancé six weeks before the wedding than six weeks after. She stayed with her godfather and his wife, but it wasn't long before she encountered Julian Adie. For the first time Elizabeth knew what it was to feel alive. But tragedy and scandal struck and Adie left the island and Elizabeth - and the relationship ended even more swiftly than it had begun.

It's not scandal and abortion that Melissa leaves behind when she goes to Corfu but the death of her mother and possibly her marriage. She wonders too if she ever really knew her mother if a relationship with Julian Adie had never been mentioned. Or had it? The nature of the relationship with a parent means that such matters might be alluded to in a way that the child might not understand. It could have been simply for distraction, but Melissa determined that she would find out all she could about her mother's time on Corfu. Some discoveries were less welcome than others but Melissa also found out a great deal about herself and her ability to trust.

The writing is lyrical. In the hands of a less skilled writer it could have been overblown but it never was. Time and time again I found myself rereading sentences just for the pleasure of the words. There's an extraordinary ability to evoke place and the switches between the past and the present were handled with deftness. Yesterday I took a rare day off and indulged myself by curling up with this book. It was a good day. The book is highly recommended and do buy it rather than borrow it as it's a book that will benefit from rereading. Looking up some points today I found myself thinking Oh, that's why…

I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy of the book to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy Swimming to Ithaca by Simon Mawer.

Buy Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson at

Buy Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson at


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