Review: The Echo of a Footfall by Patricia Scampion

50247492._SY475_The Echo of a Footfall by Patricia Scampion

Published: December 7, 2019 by Troubador Publishing

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: In 1926, having cared for her sick mother on her own for some years, 16 year old Mary gives birth to a baby boy in the Workhouse. Abandoned by her mother, unsupported by the child’s father, and behaving in ways the Workhouse finds difficult to manage, her baby is taken from her and she is sent to the local mental hospital (previously the lunatic asylum). Here, with the help of other inmates, and encouraged by an ambitious young woman seeking her vocation as a nurse, she begins a long process of discovery and development, learning to read and write, and then to cook and cater for the staff and patients in the institution that becomes her home.

Set against a backdrop of changes in attitude to, and treatments for, mental illness, and reflecting developments in post war societal structures, particularly those involving immigration from the Empire, Mary’s story spans over 50 years, as, discharged from the hospital, she continues to strive to find her identity, to understand where she belongs, and ultimately to find her baby. While the influence of the Great War on the lives of those who survived it echoes over the lives of the generations that follow, Mary yearns for a caring and tolerant community to support the family she finally creates for herself.

Rating: 3 star

Review: ***I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Troubador!!***

This book took me on quite a ride, some of it good and some of it not so good. The premise is one that I found interesting. At the turn of the 20th century, the world was undergoing a big transformation with regard to mental health. There was still a lot of the old methods of locking people away because they didn’t fit into the societal mold. But the world was also beginning  to wonder if that was the best way to deal with “deviant” people, or perhaps they should focus on the truly mentally ill with more compassion. This is where Mary comes in. She has a baby out of wedlock right in the middle of this period. Her baby is taken and she is sent to the asylum where she spends most of her life. This was the story of Mary finding her own family and creating her own community.

This book was a slow burn. I mean, really slow. Most of this book is just people having conversations. Sometimes that made things a bit boring and I started to skim because nothing was happening. The first part of the book that takes place in the asylum was the most boring. Not only was the majority of the story taking place in conversations but the limited actions outside of those conversations were also extremely repetitive. Wake up, go to breakfast, go to the yard for exercise, go to the day room, go to bed. For about 140 pages. It was dull and I found that I didn’t care much about what happened.

Once Mary is transitioned out of the asylum the story started to take off. Now it was getting interesting. She is a middle aged woman who suddenly has to figure out how to make money, make friends, buy clothes, all the normal adult things that one does. She doesn’t even know how a person is supposed to buy underwear because she’s been in an asylum since she was 16. That transition was hard for her as she both yearned for her freedom and was scared to relinquish the safety and security of asylum life. It was a compelling story and I enjoyed watching her make friends and create a community around her.

My biggest problem with the book was that the author seemed to want to connect everyone to Mary personally. By the end of the book pretty much every single person that Mary was close to had kept some secret from her about how they were related to her former life or her child’s life. And then in the epilogue the author told us who Mary’s child was. I was frustrated because it felt contrived. I already had emotions towards these people and their relationship with Mary, why did we have to have this extra layer that added no substance? The whole point of the book was that even though Mary never found her long lost son she created a family for herself, filled with love and trust. It should have been left there and I should have never known who her son was.

Overall, a compelling story about a tragic young woman who transform into a formidable grown woman. A story about a woman creating her own way, even when the world didn’t think she could. And that was a great book.

Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

49223060._SY475_Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Published: March 17, 2020 by Berkley

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships…

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

Rating: 4 star

Review: Now this is the kind of debut novel I have been wanting to read lately! It seems that a lot of the books I’ve read have been hit or miss. Either very good or very bad. But this was absolutely wonderful! It made me deeply uncomfortable, which was the point. I compare it to watching a slow motion car crash, you know that only bad things are coming but you can’t bear to look away either.

I truly love a book that has a flawed narrator, not being able to fully trust the story they are telling you adds an interesting element to the story. But what happens when you can’t trust any of the narrators? That makes for a fascinating story.

Reading Patty’s narration was sort of like rolling around in mud. It sticks to you and makes you feel gross. Even though you tried to shower it all away, there’s still the odd smudge of grossness here or there that makes you feel disgusting all over again when you discover it. You know that she isn’t telling the truth. You know in your heart that she did all the horrible things that Rose Gold says she did. Part of you really wants to see her punished for it. As a mother, I was thoroughly rooting for her demise.

Then we have Rose Gold. Her anger and need for revenge is entirely justified. She found out that her mother permanently ruined her life. Her teeth are rotting out of her head, everyone knows too many details about her childhood, and she will forever be the girl that her mother created. I really rooted for her, but as the book went on I found it harder and harder to do that. More and more she was reminding me of her mother instead of her mother’s victim.

I did not see the ending coming. Parts of it yes, but the thorough depravity of it surprised me. And it was wonderful to see how all the pieces played out. But this is also where the book lost a star for her. I found it hard to believe that the police would buy that Patty had forced Rose Gold to take a specific action a full month before she got released from prison. Surely they would have been ever slightly suspicious of the timing on that right? But apart from that, it was a wonderful book. I will be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.