‘Everyone has secrets, even those closest to you. But it’s facing your own that takes the greatest courage.’
This is what Jessica’s father told her on the night he left the family home and never returned. Broken and damaged by her father’s betrayal and her mother’s silent fury over the years that followed, Jessica took refuge with Thomas, the Ghost Boy, a local teenager with problems of his own. Years later, Jessica has everything she needs – a loving husband, a growing reputation as a jewellery designer. She’s determined not to repeat the mistakes her mother made: the vicious jealousy, the constant checking on her husband. But when a stranger, Libby Hargreaves, befriends her, the balance in Jessica’s world shifts. At first, Jessica is flattered by their new, intense friendship. And then she catches her husband and Libby alone, heads together in whispered collusion.
As the life she has worked so hard for begins to unravel, Jessica flees to her mother’s house where a childhood memory box stirs up feelings she thought she’d left behind. She is forced to confront her past with Thomas and the events that led to his disappearance one stormy night by the sea. After 17 years of believing him dead, words carved into the wood of deserted chapel give her reason to believe that he’s still alive, and might be out there somewhere, waiting for her…
Jellybird… aged 9½
My first book – Jellybird – began to write itself as I travelled home after my last day at work. With my coat no longer closing over my eight month belly and no proffered seats, I took train, tube and bus from Surbiton to Islington and never noticed a moment’s discomfort; I had been transported to a desolate, windswept beach where a girl stood looking out to sea; an image that had haunted me for years. Instead of spending my first day of maternity leave washing and ironing muslins, as planned, I bought a pad from the local newsagent’s and wrote all day. (read more)
With her life unravelling, Jessica flees home to the seaside town where she grew up. The discovery of an old postcard among her childhood belongings sends Jessica in search of her first love, Thomas, ‘the ghost boy’ who disappeared one night seventeen years ago.
Jessica has escaped her somewhat unhappy childhood and is happily married – until Libby comes into her life. At first Jessica is pleased to have a new friend. But as she becomes suspicious of Libby’s motives, Jessica finds circumstances flinging her back into her past..and a mystery never fully explained.
This was a wonderfully evocative novel – a tale of childhood, how our experiences shape our adult self and most of all about perception…and how things can come into focus as we grow up and understand more – especially about the actions, or sometimes inactions of our parents. Jessica takes a journey back into her childhood but seeing it with different eyes..in order to find out who she is and what she wants, she must understand who she was then….and find out once and for all the truth about what happened to Thomas.
This book did remind me, with its ambience, very much of one of my favourite Agatha Christie novels – Sleeping Murder. Very different tales, but both with childhood memories affecting an adult life and both with something dark lurking just below the surface. In Sleeping Murder of course, Miss Marple knows why that feeling influences Gwenda so deeply, in JellyBird Jessica is on her own..who can she trust when a lot of the time she does not even trust herself? And therein lies the beauty of this one – a sympathetic character who you are right behind even at the times you would like to kick her in the shin to get her to wake the heck up.
The mystery element is intelligent and creative – all is not as it appears. Ever. Right up to the end there is an element of suspicion about what actually occurred – even with hindsight not everything becomes clear (no, those of you who hate an open ended finish, that is not what I mean, the story is complete. However I certainly have one question for Ms Clannachan and I shall be tracking her down shortly to ask it) If you like an imaginative resolution I would say you will love this.
All in all a terrific read so thanks Bex for insisting I would love it – because you were oh so right!