Unfortunately this book was not a hit with our group, firstly a few members couldn't get hold of a copy in time, and therefore didn't read it, another gave up after reading only half, and the majority of the remaining felt they had to slog through to the end as it was a book club book. A couple of members did say that they liked it, but due to it being quite a depressive read, struggled to read much at any one time.
Within the first few chapters Abbe’s three year old daughter Cleo is run over and killed in a neighbourhood on an Hawaiian street, this comes as quite a shock to most of the members, some the nature of the event, others at how soon in the book it occurs.
Of course we understand that Abbe suffers the grief of losing her only child, but the theme of the book continues to follow Abbe wallowing in her grief, and also has several half hearted religious elements to it.
The book could have been a really good idea, as the most interesting passages tended to be those about her youth, and specifically her parents relationship in South Africa. Sadly, being set in both South Africa and Hawaii, you’d expect to read plenty of descriptive scenes; this is not the case, Morley vaguely touches on these cultural descriptions that our book club has grown to love in our books.
The only character that was developed by Morley was that of Abbe, other characters are mentioned throughout the book, but we did not get to know any of them. Many felt sorry for Abbe’s husband, and found it interesting why so many women brought up the local children (Abbe, Jenny and Theresa were all like mothers to Cleo).
Other than the death of a young girl, the group were also disturbed by how Abbe scattered Cleo’s ashes on her own and how Abbe spoke to Theresa at Jake’s funeral. The members did like how before Abbe, left for South Africa, she found the man who killed her daughter and forgave him, allowing him to forgive himself for the terrible accident.
The ending was very predictable, we were pleased the orphanage remained and that Abbe did help the children in the end. The group also appreciated finding out that Abbe’s mother had poisoned Abbe’s father. If anything the ending was a little too tidy, considering the rest of the book had been so disjointed.
None of our members would aim to read anything by Morley again, unless the book covered a different theme and came highly recommended.
This book, although technically easy to read, was difficult to stick with, which is why it has scored so poorly (sorry to Isla Morley if you ever see this review). Seven members read the book, highest score 5 and lowest score 2, giving us an average of 4 out of 10.
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