Loss by Jane Lightbourne
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|Loss by Jane Lightbourne|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A delicate examination of love, loss, abuse and family dynamics. Absorbing, elegantly written, and plenty to think about after reading.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 411||Date: [[:Category:|]]|
|Publisher: Nevada Street Press|
|External links: Author's website|
In the middle of the night, a young social worker gets a phone call from a client. Spooked, she goes out on an out-of-hours visit but her inexperience leads her to be fobbed off by her client's mother and boyfriend...
.... and Loss begins three years after that visit as the consequences flowing from it can be borne no longer.
Jamie, a London-based lawyer, is driving up to Scotland in the middle of the night at the behest of his mother, who wants her two warring sons to make peace. Jamie's sister went missing, you see, and Jamie's brother Peter blames Jamie. A while before she disappeared, she'd been in the car with Jamie, not wearing a seatbelt, when there was an accident. The resulting head injury changed Sarah and Peter puts her disappearance down to it, and to Jamie, the driver. This is not the only grief and guilt in Jamie's life: his wife, Rachel, wants a baby but has suffered several miscarriages. She wants to keep trying but Jamie is ambivalent and their marriage is strained.
And then Jamie sees Katy, at the side of the road. Something about her reminds him of Sarah - a strange, mysterious charisma that shines through the neglected, unkempt state she's in. So he stops and picks her up. Katy also wants to go to Scotland to resolve a family crisis. Katy's brother died when he was a baby and Sarah's daughter, Cara, is also missing; just gone. And Katy, emerging from a haze of drug addiction and abusive relationships, knows that she'll never find peace until she searches for the truth about her daughter.
Families and their dynamics are complicated things. There can be profound love, support and solace but there can also be betrayal, abuse and tragedy. And sometimes all these things exist together at once. Jane Lightbourne delicately unpicks the pressures and events that have led up to Jamie and Katy meeting on the road to Scotland and follows them as they try to make sense of their pasts and struggle towards better futures. Which bits of the past can be reclaimed? Which are lost forever? Can every relationship be rebuilt or must some be left behind? It's carefully and elegantly done through dual narrators in Katy and Jamie. Despite inhabiting their inner worlds, Lightbourne keeps the plot progression nicely one step ahead of the reader so tension and a little bit of mystery are retained.
Events in Loss are upsetting at times but you always get the feeling there will be at least some light at the end of the tunnel - without spoiling, yes there is - even if it is bittersweet. I think Lightbourne has achieved a satisfying balance between honesty and compassion in this clear-eyed look at love, loss, guilt and the capacity of humans to rebuild.
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