The Place Where Love Should Be by Elizabeth Ellis
|The Place Where Love Should Be by Elizabeth Ellis|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A subtle and engaging exploration of post natal depression and long-buried family secrets. Evocatively written, it's an absorbing read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: June 2018|
Edward is six weeks old and I’ve had no sleep. I had thirty stitches in my perineum, the wounds still tug and itch. They had to do the stitches twice because the first lot became infected. The old-school midwife told me I wasn’t paying enough attention to personal hygiene. I must shower twice a day, or better still, take a salt bath. Do they really expect me to do that? Have they ever tried to shower when a baby is crying and you’re so tired you can barely stand and your partner is banging around downstairs because he’s late for work again?
I think most women have felt like this shortly after having a baby. Many of them simply managed to put one foot in front of the other until things calmed down but some will have found it harder and developed post-natal depression. PND is happening to Evie. Her relationship with her partner Mark is becoming more distant and testy. Her sister Joanna is so perfect it's infuriating. And, for all sorts of reasons, she doesn't want to ask either her father or her stepmother for help. But perhaps there is someone...
... that someone is Evie's long-estranged birth mother. And Evie, lost in the fog of depression though she is, manages to track her down. This reunion will do more than help Evie with the "baby blues" - it will provide the catalyst for an entire family to come to terms with its past and its present realities.
The Place Where Love Should Be is a delight to read. It's subtly written yet immediately engaging. It opens with a prologue describing the events that led to Evie's mother leaving and then plunges the reader straight into adult Evie's head, as she struggles to cope with the birth of her baby, Edward. You feel the same disassociation Evie feels as she narrates the litany of her perceived - and, to others, apparent - failures. It's obvious that Evie needs help, even as she pushes others away - her partner, her sister, her father, her stepmother, even her neighbour. You can really feel how oppressive Evie's world has become and how hard it seems to envisage any way to make things better. Simple, non-judgemental help from her estranged mother allows the sunlight in and it's only then we begin to see the real Evie. This is a compassionate and accurate exploration of post natal depression.
The novel also looks at blended families and the stresses and strains they come with, and at family secrets that were buried rather than faced and laid to rest. Ellis approaches these quite difficult themes with the same care and delicacy and the novel ends on an optimistic note but with no easy tying up of all the painful loose ends. I found it carefully and unobtrusively plotted and I really wanted to know how things turned out for all the characters I'd come to care about.
The Place Where Love Should Be is a lovely read, rooted in the experience of women. It comes recommended by Bookbag.
Dead Lovely by Helen Fitzgerald looks at post natal depression and family secrets in the form of a crime novel but one written with women in mind.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Place Where Love Should Be by Elizabeth Ellis at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Place Where Love Should Be by Elizabeth Ellis at Amazon.com.
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