By: Elizabeth Noble
Publisher: Berkley Books, New York
Publication Date: September 2013
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 24, 2013
Elizabeth Noble delivers a poignant story of the promise of hope that lies beyond the tragedy of loss.
Maggie Barrett was an Olympic contender. She trained her whole life to represent Australia in the swimming competition. Life, however, had a different plan for her coveted hopes and dreams. When seventeen year old Maggie and her family are dining out at the sailing club one evening, she meets nineteen year old Bill Barrett; a young man on a gap year from his studies and far from his London home. It just so happens he is their server. Unbeknownst to Maggie, the Olympics would remain a dream and in the years ahead, her only memory of the experience would be the years of training she spent to ultimately get there.
After twenty years of marriage to Bill Barrett and the loss of their first-born son, Jake, to the egregious tsunami that accosted the Indonesian coastline, Maggie Barrett pulled in her sidewalks. She and Bill had separated. Her sleepless nights are compounded by the imminent end of her emotionless marriage, the struggles of navigating teenage drama with her daughter Aly and dealing with the over-the-top energy from her son, Stan. She hadn’t the strength to carry on with the substance and tenacity she had before Jake’s death. Unlike Bill’s mission of grief counseling and healing, such remedies were far from her list of things to do. Her reality and lack of healing was a daily remembrance of her son; the one she would never see again.
Maggie’s only salvation and anchor with reality is her sister Olivia. However, Olivia is 20,000 miles away. It is when Olivia pays a holiday visit, although Maggie cannot see it initially, there is a ray of hope about to shine upon Maggie’s dark and despondent life. Maggie isn’t the only person grieving from a loss. Kate Miller has lost her husband Phillip—the love of her life. They had barely ten years together when a sudden heart attack ripped him away. Kate’s attempt toward healing is to take an ad in the paper in hopes of finding a family to fill her ever present void. When Olivia answers the ad (on Maggie’s behalf) perhaps the needed companionship will be Kate’s return as much as coping with Jake’s loss will be Maggie’s new beginnings.
It is no wonder Elizabeth Noble has a status of International Best Seller. She has taken the vitally important topic of loss and has delivered an exceptionally beautiful story through its premise. The foundation is laid early on in the book: the reality of pain that is the constant aftermath in the wake of death and loss. Ms. Noble has the option to spin a maudlin tale of woe and darkness; yet in Between a Mother and Her Child, she has chosen the path of having despair take a back seat to the promise of hope and healing. The substance and character she portrays in both main characters, Maggie Barrett and Kate Miller, is outstanding. They are credible women who have endured more than a fair amount of sadness and sorrow; yet their respective sublime tenacity to forge forward is ever present. Ms. Noble has impeccable timing and tone and keeps the pace alive and moving forward with the right balance and blending of her secondary characters (and their respective challenges). Never once did I feel the weight of ‘having’ to turn a page. Rather, I looked forward to not only turning each page, but the wonder of ‘what next’ in the chapter ahead. Well done Ms. Noble!
Quill says: Between a Mother and Her Child delivers a profound message of recognizing the importance of living each day to its fullest and embracing each memory in the moment.