Jenny is dead. She is stuck in a kind of limbo, where she remains at home in London, watching over her husband, Ed and her young daughter, Bee. She aches to be able to touch them or communicate somehow, but this is not an option. She must watch as her husband melts into a puddle of grief and retreats further inside himself on a daily basis. Small things set him off into tears and Bee watches on, too young to understand. The whole thing is heartbreaking, especially as Jenny knows she doesn't deserve the pedestal that Ed has placed her on. He never knew the real her.
The story is broken into three. Firstly, there is Jenny and Ed, How they met, how they married and the arrival of Bee and the death of Jenny. The second part is how Ed moves on in life and meets Rowan, who then slips into the family and mends Ed's heart. The final part is Bee's story. How she reacted to her mother's death, the introduction of Rowan into her life and finally looks slightly into the future to see how their lives pan out.
This is Helen Moorehouse's third novel, although the first I have read. An Irish author who has a great following, I have read many wonderful things about her work. I adore the book's cover and the idea behind the story. Similar to The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman, the reader can imagine what it must be like to watch over your loved ones but not be able to interact with them. The frustration of being neither here nor there. Unlike Hannah Beckerman's novel, this is more the story of a lie, a chain of events and a child's reaction to losing a parent. I was not a fan of Bee. While we don't get to see the pre-teen years, her character seems to be have been formed with the idea that it's ok for a child to be troublesome, if she has lost a parent. Her father seems to have let her away with a lot over the years and the bond between herself and Rowan is pretty much non-existent. I found the second part of the book very drawn out, with no need for it's length. Rowan started off as a nice enough character, but soon became boring. The initial story of Jenn and Ed, their marriage, and how things began to get away from Jenn, was a great start to the book but the second part lost its momentum. Things picked up a little in the third part when Bee is in her twenties and finally starts to grow up. She was still annoying though and I found I really lost interest in the whole family by the end of the book.
However, I will say that I thought the author writes beautifully. Her style is gentle and descriptive with the right balance between the story and the characters. I just didn't like the characters very much and therefor couldn't connect.
I think this book would be perfect for fans of Sheila O'Flanagan or Trisha Ashley. Maybe the characters will appeal to others more than me. I have the authors two earlier novels, and look forward to reading more of her work.
Sing Me To Sleep is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and e-book format.