Friday, 24 May 2019

Review | My Mother's Daughter by Ann O'Loughlin

Published by Orion on May 16, 2019


I've been a big fan of Ann O'Loughlin ever since I read her debut novel The Ballroom Cafe back in 2015. Ann's books are emotional, moving and truly compelling and it is safe to say that her latest book, My Mother's Daughter, is no different.

At the beginning of the book, we meet two women who are going through some very tough times. In Ireland, we meet Margo. She is grieving after the death of her husband, Conor, and is crippled by loneliness. The one shining light in her life is her daughter, Elsa, but then a letter arrives and Margo is terrified that the contents may tear apart the lives of both her and Elsa.

In the USA, we meet Cassie. Cassie has just split up from Charles, her husband, who is refusing to pay for child support and is demanding a paternity test, leaving their daughter Tilly unhappily caught in the middle. For Cassie, the answer is obvious. She knows they were in love young and that Charles is 100% the father, so they get a paternity test done to prove this, except this one test sends Cassie and Tilly's lives into disarray.

Ann O'Loughlin never fails to produce thoroughly thought-provoking fiction and always creates realistic and authentic characters and from the moment I'd read the first couple of chapters and been introduced to Margo and Cassie, I knew that this was the case in My Mother's Daughter. Their stories are captivating and I absolutely loved reading how they intertwined. This story really brings home the love between a mother and her daughter and the unbreakable bonds between them and I really felt the warmth in the relationships between Margo and Elsa and Cassie and Tilly, despite the struggles life was throwing at them.

One thing I particularly loved about this book were the many themes delved into. Ann O'Loughlin is such an honest writer and her storytelling is so easy to become emotionally invested in. Ann's portrayal of grief, of mothers-and-daughters, of friendship and relationships, of all of these things is so genuine and encapsulating. In particular, for me, Margo's grief in this book is so believeable and I really felt for her because you can see how much losing her husband has affected her life. Living in the home she and Conor had loved so much, but living in it now without him, this has such an impact on Margo and how everything has changed yet around her it is exactly the same.

I had the odd little niggle with aspects to this book at times, such as the dialogue which I found sometimes didn't give justice to the scene. It's hard to explain without spoilers, but for me on occasions there were moments and scenes that were shocking or quite emotional but the dialogue didn't fully represent that. However, this is just a minor issue with a book that for the most part was wonderfully compelling and for me the best kind of books are the ones that make you think and My Mother's Daughter fit the bill quite beautifully.

Poignant and touching, the chapters vanished so quickly as I was reading My Mother's Daughter as I always wanted to know more and never could find the right time to put the book down. I read this in one afternoon as the writing flowed so effortlessly and the twists interweaved within the plot grabbed a hold of me until I simply had no other choice but to read to the end to see how things would turn out for Cassie and Margo and all the supporting characters who made this book so fascinating. They are not characters who are forgotten instantly when the last page is drawn - these characters and this story will stay with me for a long time.




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