Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: With All My Love

Author: Patricia Scanlan
Title: With All My Love
Publisher: Atria
Publish Date: July 30, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
A heartwarming novel about a shocking discovery that forever changes the lives of three generations of women.

When Briony McAllister takes a trip to visit her mother, Valerie, she uncovers a letter from her long-lost grandmother, bringing to light a nearly unforgivable act her mother has kept secret for decades. Having always believed that her grandparents didn’t want to see her, she finds that the opposite is true: her grandmother had been seeking her out all along, and it was her own mother who willfully kept them apart.

Devastated that her past has come back to haunt her, Valerie realizes that her daughter’s anger might cause their troubled family history to repeat itself in a new generation. Rich with emotion and featuring magnificent descriptions of Ireland, With All My Love deftly weaves the stories of the past and present to take us into the heart of a family at war. As the truth is revealed, so too are the complex yet enduring bonds between mothers and daughters.

Review: This is a book that is hard to love, not because the book is bad, but because the characters are so downright human. These are real people and real problems, and 80% of the characters are unlikable, including the main characters. Oh and if you think Briony is one of them, she really isn't. She really feels more like a catalyst to get the story moving.

With All My Love is Valerie and Jeff's story for the most part. Even after Briony finds the letter from her Grandma, the story isn't told to her, the reader is shown it through Valerie and Tessa's eyes. Tessa is just a unlikable lady from the start. She's overprotective of her son, Jeff and she's really nasty to Valerie for no good reason.

The letter from Tessa is discovered on the anniversary of her father's death. The letter brings back pain and heartbreak and a whole lot of anger.

Valerie is a typical teenage girl from the early 80s. She wants to have fun. Enter an overbearing and controlling father and you have a recipe for disaster. I loved the references to Charles and Diana's wedding and all the Mills and Boon books Valerie read.

Valerie does a lot of things that make you dislike her, but at the same time, you really feel sorry for her. She loved Jeff and losing him at such a young age was devastating and with a young daughter too.

This book really details the power struggle between a girlfriend and a mother. As the story goes on, you really see how similar these two women are. Both were trying to escape a bad family life, though Valerie does have a close relationship with her own mother who longs to break free from her own bad marriage.

Jeff is written like every young man who found himself with a pregnant girlfriend. His actions are more than believable. You feel sorry for him, but at times, you want him to be a man and not a mouse.

There are a lot of struggles between Val and Jeff too. Typical fights between couples really. I liked the reality of the story, though I hated the actions of both Valerie and Tessa. Their behavior towards each other was deplorable.

You will find yourself loving and hating many of the characters throughout the book. Valerie's father is one of them. He's a tough one, worried about appearances and wanting what's best for everyone. I didn't agree with his discipline of the young Valerie, but I felt terribly sorry for him and I didn't like how little emotion was spent when he died.

My favorite characters were Lorcan, Jeff's father, who was a true gentlemen and Valerie's best friend Lizzie. I also loved Val's mom.

The ending tied things up a little to neatly for me for all the angst that this story contained.

This was very emotional read and though parts of it were extremely frustrating it was hard to put down.

Rating: 3 flowers


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