The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

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The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: How well do we know our adult offspring? This touchingly poignant and totally intriguing story will make us all wonder.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: September 2016
Publisher: Harper
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007593996

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Anna is missing; a difficult truth for her mother Jess to absorb. Anna went ski-ing with friends, leaving Jess to look after Anna's daughter, Jess' granddaughter. Little Rose is now a comforting presence for Jess as she thinks about Anna, piecing together the person and life that Jess thought she knew about. However, Anna has secrets, at least one of which will have repercussions… and not just for Jess.

Fionnuala Kearney seems to specialise in writing about family-affecting secrets. This was the case in the marriage break up featured in her debut You, Me and Other People and she's at it again in this, her second novel. This time the explosive secrets begin beyond the family and Anna's disappearance is the catalyst that pulls the pin.

Meanwhile Jess's friend Theo is also in a form of limbo a little different from Jess's not knowing Anna's fate. His marriage has come to a shuddering full stop and so he must negotiate his way through the debris while supporting Jess emotionally. That's quite some feat as we discover through his own interlacing authentically related chapters.

When women's fiction presents us with two vulnerable people seeming to gravitate towards each other in the way that Jess and Theo do, the will they/won't they question would normally lurk in our minds. Here Theo and Jess may or they may not but it seems a disservice to the novel and Fionnuala to dwell on that. There's so much more to this book and, while an easy read, it contains emotional complexities that raise it above the women's fiction/'chick lit' definition that's usually understood within that labelling.

These complexities are fed not only by Anna's disappearance but by Anna herself, chipping in thoughts, opinions and moments via previously written blog entries. From these we piece together the image of a young, much loved single mother who has hopes and ideas that make sense of what we first learn of the family. The internet may be a mixed blessing in real life but it makes a great literary plot device.

This is indeed clever stuff that provides us with surprises, smiles, tears and quite a blistering shock towards the end. Not only is it entertaining, but I'm betting it will leave us wondering about those we love whom we also thought we knew. It'll also stop us wanting to go skiing… or is that just me?

(Thank you so much to the people at Harper for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: There's some great women's fiction around at the moment. If you'd like a great read to lose yourself in for a while, we highly recommend The Sisters of St Croix by Diney Costeloe or The Regulars by Georgia Clark.

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Buy The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney at


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