Marlene Hauser


“While I did not know how long a lifetime might be, I put the mathematics of it all out of my head, safe in the knowledge that even if Mom came back in a different shape and size, I would recognise her. I would know her by the geraniums she would grow.”

We meet middle-child Lily Preston when she is a bright four-year old, very in tune with the fact there is something not right in her family. Moved from country to country, place to place thanks in part to her father’s military career in the 1960s and 70s, Lily and her two siblings cannot seem to outrun the abuse they suffer at the hands of their father and grandmother, as well as others.

This dysfunctional family drama and coming-of-age story is at times an uncomfortable read. Hauser writes with brutal honesty and while this does indeed lead to some almost unbearably bleak scenes, it brings a great level of authenticity to both plot and characters.

M, the children’s grandmother, was a remarkably well-written narcissist, as was the children’s father. It beggars belief that people can be so cruel to children, but sadly this is the stark reality for far too many.

Our protagonist Lily is an incredible character who will stay with me for a long time. The resilience of people, and more particularly children in this case, never fails to astound me. While Lily’s (and her siblings’) story was undoubtedly full of tragedy and trauma, there was also hope which buoyed me. A heart-breaking but worthy read that will stay with me.

Thanks to @randomthingstours and the publisher for the review copy of this book as part of the book blog tour ☺️

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