Thursday, 10 January 2019

Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones

Review by JJ Marsh

What we thought:

The title struck me first as an umbrella - a tightly wound spiky bat-like device to be unfurled when the rain comes in. But the reading of this beautiful novel led me to sails, and the thought that only when the wind fills them is motion possible.

Ella's mother left them years ago, in the grip of a mental illness. She hardly thinks of her at all. She has her dad, her anchor and ferryman; her job as a vet; and her rock, husband Neil. Now she is expecting a child of her own and motherhood is her next challenge.
After a sudden accident kills her father, Ella is undone. All the more so when she discovers her mother and father maintained contact over the years. She questions the story of her life and her understanding of who she is.

This is a gracefully written novel which packs a huge punch. Grief, identity and acceptance of change are bundled up into this atmospheric story of how one woman grows to interpret and understand her role in the story of her life.

Bailat-Jones writes with elegance and precision, much like a ballet dancer, using imagery of sea, storms, knots and a sailor's respect for the ocean. But like a dancer, the artistry comes from strength. One of the loveliest and most haunting books I've read this year.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Fog Island Mountains, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, or Spilt Milk by Amanda Hodgkinson

Avoid if you don’t like: Stories of grief, loss and the realities of a veterinarian's day

Ideal accompaniments
: Gentleman's Relish on warm buttered toast, sparkling water with a dash of Angostura Bitters and Haevn's The Sea playing in the background.

Available on Amazon

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