Monday, 29 September 2014

Review of The Piano Player's Son by Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn

By Gillian Hamer

Women’s fiction isn’t my first choice of reading genre, even though I like to think I am becoming more adventurous as I get older, but I’m glad I dipped my toe into the intriguing world created by a very talented author – Lindsay Stanberry- Flynn.
Lindsay and I met in person at the London Book Fair in April ’14 and I was immediately taken with her curious nature and wealth of experience, and was delighted to invite her to the Triskele Book Club and take the opportunity to read her latest novel.

This is a complex family saga with layers of intrigue and hidden depths. A family thrown into grief after the death of a much-loved father begins to unravel after Eva (the mother) imparts a three-decade-old secret to her eldest daughter, Isabel.

Isabel becomes the narrator; already facing a multitude of crises in her personal life, this added strain is the final straw. What follows is a story of sibling rivalry, trust and deception, and a shocking conclusion that takes the reader by surprise. Every family member is examined and the relationship within the family unit is dissected in a clever way – something that will make a lot of people uncomfortable in its realism. It’s a personal bugbear of mine that death and grief is often portrayed in books and films as something romantic and heartfelt, and yet, more often than not a death can lead to bitter in-fighting and rivalry at a time when those close to the deceased simply want peace and time to heal. The author does not hold back in showing the real face of bereavement and all its consequences.

Lindsay’s strength as a human being seems to be her ability to understand the frailty of human nature, the complexity of family life, and shows us great insight into building a collection of characters that – while not all likeable – are all believable and realistic. Her strength as a writer is in her ability to create a plot that is gritty with a strong narrative and yet, offer us prose has the lightest of touches and a style that is original and compelling.

A must-read for anyone with an interest in family sagas and women’s contemporary fiction.

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