Tuesday, 7 October 2014

"Away From You" by Kay Langdale

I received a copy of this title, from the publisher, in return for an honest review.
Monica Watson is a married mother of two and is longing to return to work in the film industry.  After years of unemployment in her chosen field, she receives a call from an old work mate offering her work on a movie he is involved with.  She is delighted with the offer and can't wait to get started.  There is only one problem.  The job is in LA and means relocating for a minimum of three months.  Not so simple when she has toddler, Luca, nine-year old Ruby and her husband, Daniel to consider.  However, Daniel, a surgeon, sees how much this opportunity means to Monica, and persuades her to go.  A childcare worker is sought out, for the duration, and Ursula takes over the role of housekeeper and nanny.  But Ursula is not happy to minding the children.  She is tense, quiet and keeps her distance from Ruby and Luca.  Why can she not make eye contact? Why does Ruby have to work so hard to make the woman interact with her? Should Monica have turned down the job in favour for time with her family?
This is the first novel that I have read by Kay Langdale so I had no expectations.  The blurb was appealing and, at 279 pages, it is a great length to read in a couple of sittings.  I knew from the first chapter that I was reading something special.  The language and prose is delicate but informative, gentle but persuasive.  The narrative is split between characters so the reader gets varied angles and this really helped connect with the feeling of the novel.  Monica comes across as quiet selfish in her longing to further her career rather than remain a stay at home mother and wife, but her decision is more about broadening her own inner self-worth than any other reason.  Daniel had her full support when he was in medical school and she feels her time has come.  When a suitable childminder is found,  there seems no reason to grab this chance while she can.
When Ursula arrives, Ruby observes her and through her own viewpoint, the reader can see how she notices everything and substitutes Ursula for her mother very early on.  The chapters written from Ruby's perspective are wonderful.  So innocent yet calculating at the same time.  Ruby is a clever child and very endearing.  Daniel seems happy to relinquish the majority of family responsibility to Ursula and she takes on the child rearing role less enthusiastically than the household ones.  There is an invisible boundary between herself and the children but Daniel is too busy, with his own issues, to notice.  The shift in moods, throughout the novel, are subtle yet very powerful.  The writing blew me away at times, with melodic prose dotted throughout.
It is rare that a book can cause my emotion to bubble to the surface.  The story must be not only real and believable, but also written with some empathy and respect.  This is one of these rare books.  It may not have you turning the pages at break neck speed, but rather, slowly turning each page. Savouring the words. Anticipating the next poetic paragraph.  Wanting, badly, for it to last forever.  A beautifully written novel,   that will remain in your thoughts for a long time to come.
Away From You is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in Hardback and ebook format

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