From hell back to recovery

2009-09-23 00:00


Come Sunday

Isla Morley


IF you need a good cry, but somehow just can’t muster one up, then invest in a full box of ­tissues and succumb to the ­cathartic effects this book will ­offer.

I do not cry in films or books easily but the tears I eventually wept over the pages were not only for Abbe Deighton’s toddler Cleo, who is killed by a car some few chapters from the start. I also wept for the many other mothers in the news recently who have lost their children and been drawn to the very nadir of existence. I found I adored little Cleo because Isla Morley had brought her to life so very perfectly to begin with.

Under the guidance of Morley’s pen, I accompanied Abbe to hell and back as she tries to come to terms with Cleo’s death and piece her shattered life back together, nursing her crushed spirit back from the brink.

Don’t be put off the book because it sounds sad. It has many other ­elements to it, and plays with fascinating subplots.

But back to the story. Abbe grew up in South Africa, but has moved to Hawaii — an interesting description of it, worlds away from the hula girls and stunning beaches we like to­ ­imagine — where she has married a mild-mannered Methodist minister and settled down, as one does. But then Cleo dies and things fall apart, as they do.

Ultimately, Abbe must head back to Mama Africa flying solo to begin her healing and as she does this, she uncovers long-buried mysteries about her dead parents which are ­inextricably linked to her grandmother’s sangoma domestic servant, on the farm near Paarl.

Abbe finds that going back to her roots and helping others, may well spark her own journey to recovery.

This meagre review cannot do the book justice, but suffice to say, Isla Morley has just been added to my list of South African women writers who are excelling in terms of their craft and of whom I find myself a great fan. Her easy style and ability to hook her reader hard make her a ­wonderful writer and I can’t wait for her next offering.

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