If left to my own devices, you would find me curled up in a chair with a good book and a bowl of apples…wait, that would be Jo March from Little Women…Who am I kidding? I would have a
plate bag of cookies and a nice cup of tea. When I get my hands on a good book, I don’t like to let go until I am finished at the expense of other work…yes, I sometimes neglect the laundry (but never the dog because she stares at me when she needs to go out and not even I can read through that). And the book, this book, I could not put down.
The book lets you share an idyllic morning with a mom, Ella, and her two very young and cherished children. Given the title you know their joy will be short-lived – it is fractured by the accidental death of her adored husband and the children’s father. While Ella is clearly Mama, she is not the birth mother of these children. The birth mother returns in the form of Paige, beautiful and seemingly cool, which puts the already shaken Ella into a tailspin. As if this isn’t enough to bear, Ella discovers that her husband was keeping more than one secret from her.
The resilience, integrity and love exhibited by the characters in this book is striking. You are naturally on Ella’s side against the interloper, Paige, who walked out on her family. Luckily, as in life, nothing is ever so neat and you are drawn into the lives and loves of these two women. A complex, well-developed book that involves sensitive topics (post-partum depression and psychosis) that are artfully interwoven, never taking over the story and never losing the focus of the heart of this family and this story, the children. A sensitive portrayal of a wonderful family, one that is accepting, supportive and loving.
I received a copy of this book but no compensation for this review.
The Underside of Joy
by Sere Prince Halverson