The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

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The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Stacey Barkley
Reviewed by Stacey Barkley
Summary: A feel-good read at its very best; intriguing, quirky, and altogether captivating.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007501816

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As usual, Ahern manages to find, and more importantly, to convey the beauty that lies in what is everyday and mundane. In this case, marbles, shining, delicate and intricately crafted, lie at the centre of a personal journey.

Fergus Boggs, divorcee and father to Sabrina, is recovering from a stroke, which has affected his memory. Day by day, old faces must reacquaint themselves, and with each remark that draws a blank, Fergus is presented with the scope of all that he has forgotten. Meanwhile, Sabrina has become stuck in a rut; she waits, not quite sure for what exactly, and spends her days working and then tending to her sons and husband. Something, however, is missing in life and she stands on the outside observing rather than really living.

With an unexpected day to spare Sabrina is presented with some boxes. As she peers inside she uncovers not only a valuable marble collection, but also a father very different from the one she thinks she knows, and a whole lot about herself for good measure.

The story of Fergus is poignant, witty and ultimately very relatable. In a bid to better himself Fergus feels compelled time and again to hide his true self and to aim instead to be the man he believes other people expect him to be. Over time this has led to his feeling like a stranger from his loved ones, and to a splitting of himself. This is a strain that becomes unbearable. Time, however, is not on his side and just as Fergus seeks to reveal his life to his daughter he suffers a stroke resulting in the ultimate loss, that of his story from himself. His loves and passions, memories and interests are buried with little hope of being rescued. Until, that is, those shiny marbles mysteriously find their way back into the present.

As we alternate between father and daughter we begin to uncover the history of Fergus, piece-by-piece, just as he has hidden it over many years. Written with effective symmetry, as he begins to remember, Sabrina begins to uncover. At the same time, unravelling her Father's story leads to much self-discovery for Sabrina. By delving into her father's past she begins to fill in gaps in her life that she wasn't even aware of. With this new-found knowledge comes a renewed sense of self, place, and purpose, and a much-needed push from the parameters she stands on into the centre of her family and life.

This is a story about identity, memory and family ties, about how so much of what we are is bound up in our shared history. If those closest to us don't really know us, can we truly exist at all? In essence, it is only by sharing ourselves that we have someone to remind us should we forget.

For further reading, why not try The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes or Ahern's own The Year I Met You?

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