Love hurts. 4/5 stars.
I’m delighted to be on today’s stop of the Blog Tour for All That Was Lost by Alison May. The book was published on 6th September and you can get your own copy at Amazon UK.
Thank you to Legend Press and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of the book.
The blurb: In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.
Leo is the journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. Struggling to reconcile the demands of his family, his grief for his lost son, and his need to understand his own background, Leo becomes more and more frustrated at Patrice’s refusal to open up.
Because behind closed doors, Patrice is hiding more than one secret. And it seems that now, her past is finally catching up with her.
As you’ll have seen from the blurb, the central character in All That Was Lost is a medium. This made me slightly worried going in as I have serious issues with anyone who exploits the grief of others to make money. That Alison May manages to make Patrice sympathetic is a real achievement, one made mostly through some well-timed flashbacks to her youth in the 1960s.
The 60s storyline is interwoven with present day events and was my favourite part of the book. This is probably because I’m a sucker for excellent period detail but I also loved the adult world of hypocrisy and secrets surrounding the young Patience which is cleverly revealed as she gradually becomes aware of them.
As the title rightly warns, this story is partly a study of grief. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s also a story about stories; an insightful look at the large and small tales we tell ourselves and others, often to cope with the day-to-day. However, while that all may sound a little heavy, the narrative never becomes depressing and I think that’s because its main focus is on the emotion underpinning the characters’ grief and regrets: love.
This book takes a hard look at love in relationships, particularly those between parents and children, and the possible consequences of loving too much or too little. Whether you’re looking for a story of first love, forbidden love, or doomed love, it’s all here. Ultimately the book is as much about what the characters have found or find as they have lost. They all discover something, even if it’s only about themselves. Rather than a dreamy happily ever after, they mostly manage to come away from events with a realistic sense of acceptance.
I should give a few small warnings: for those who have suffered a recent loss, particularly that of a child, I would say it’s possibly best to put this book to one side for the future. And readers who require books to end with everything neatly tied in a bow might find the ending of All That Was Lost a bit frustrating. Personally, I though it ended in just the right place, but you’ve been warned!
If you’d like to check out the rest of the tour stops, here they are:
Claire Huston / Art and Soul