Monday, 22 June 2020

The Sound Mirror - Heidi James

A compelling read.

My interest in the book stemmed from the fact that it was a story about an  Englishwoman sailing from Inda to England. I was thrilled to receive this copy for review, only to realise it was that and much more.

Gist:
The book is the story of Tamara, Clare and Ada. When the story opens they are on the threshold of a life defining journey.

What works:
  • It felt a bit demanding at first as the narrative switched between characters and the different periods but James rewards the reader well. The plot unravels beautifully once the reader settles in with the characters as they  navigate through trying circumstances, with far reaching consequences.
  • The characters are stark but empthatetic. I felt for the young Ada's disappointment as she sees England after spending a childhood in India, cringing when Tamara is told off by her husband and feel frustrated for Clare when she finds grammer school slipping through her fingers. It was also interesting to spot how common threads ran through their distinct lives, binding these women together.
  • The scenes are vivid, packed with layers. Like the instance where employee Ada asked to quit because she is an extremely efficient woman worker. The social undercurrent of the setting when Claire meets Den's family for the first time and the scene were toddler Tamara is wandering around the house looking for her absent mum is loaded with backstory. 
  • James writes with sensitivity. She unwraps truth through carefully chosen words and hints. It is heartbreaking in places but the compelling writing style forces the reader to keep going, consumed by the need to know more.
  • The three separate stories converge very well at one point. The unexpected turn nicely braids the threads into one narrative catching the reader unawares.
  • Also the references to the Sound Mirror and the hibiscus are done well. It was easy to imagine myself in a Kali Temple in Calcutta or strolling through the beach where little Tamara discovers Sound mirrors. James ensures the reader is well travelled just like her characters .     
A layered read that works on many levels. The Sound Mirror is published by Bluemoose books.

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