By: Barbara Claypole White
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 9/27/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
Sometimes the only way through darkness is to return to where it began.
Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured.
Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.
In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples of what if reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.
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The story behind Echoes of Family
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A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
From the author of The Perfect Son (2015) A Brit, now residing in NC, Barbara Claypole White follows with another poignant and emotional story of an unconventional family- ECHOES OF FAMILY the darkness of mental illness, tragedy, guilt, regret, and secrets of the past- mixed with wit and compassion.
“You’re never truly lost if someone cares enough to come find you. Lost is waiting to be found.”
Marianne is a successful forty-something musician. She also is the founder of a non-profit group, a safe haven for teens in crisis. She loves music. She suffering from mental illness. Bipolar disorder.
Full disclosure had never been Marianne’s thing, except thirty years earlier with Gabriel. Before she lied and broken his heart. Before she won the Olympic gold for teen drama. Before the bipolar monster had claimed her as his.
As the author mentions in her notes:
“The world is changing and the definition of family isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. I also wanted to flip The Perfect Son, which is a story driven by the notion that you can’t escape genetics, to write about a family with no blood ties.”
Marianne is a woman of extreme mood swings, (bipolar illness) whereas Gabriel has learned the art of emotional detachment. Lack of emotional control creates problems for both of them and drives the plot.
Marianne left England at age seventeen. This was her childhood village. She left behind secrets and tragedy. Someone died. Betrayal. Guilt. She left her first love Gabriel, badly injured. A complex past relationship. Now in North Carolina she has found solace in a recording studio she runs with her husband, and her almost daughter, Jade.
Jade came to live with them as a teen, when Marianne started a group, “Girls in Motion” for teenage girls in trouble. Darius is crazy about Marianne and thinks with love he can keep her well.
However, another fatality forces her back to England to confront her past. Thirty years later. She has to face her past in order to move on with her future. As her life spirals out of control, she tries to find answers in her past.
Jade and Darius try to track her down. No one knew the real truth. Gabriel, now a priest. A brother Simon, dead. An unborn baby. Demons of the past. A priest who preaches forgiveness but cannot forgive his brother and the girl who betrayed him. When things are not as they seem. Lies and deception.
With three female damaged characters, each respond to challenges in different ways and exhibit different kinds of heroism. A husband which was a do-over. A second chance. They were not going to discuss the past.
Gabriel and Simon represented the worst of her—everything she had tried to change. The guilt of what she did to her best friend. Everything that followed was a direct consequence of her secrets, and lies. The accident, her Pandora’s box.
The unknowns, fear, and questions: What if her husband Darius sees the inside of the box and decides he is done with her? She cannot lose him. She had worked too hard to protect he and Jade from her past.
Was it protection, or just shutting them out? Is she trusting someone from her past more than her present?
Marianna is not a very likable character; however, this could be part of the mental illness and her extreme lows and highs, which the author realistically portrays. Four broken people who choose to support one another.
There are many emotions, from a trauma which her family is in the dark, and a daughter, affected by her emotions. An abrupt flight from NC back to England and the conflicts of a family giving her space or support. When back in England she has to face her painful past and find the courage to be honest, ask for forgiveness from a family, and those important to her. The resilience of relationships.
“Sometimes the only way through darkness is to return to where it began.”
White has a unique way of reaching into her character’s minds, and hearts-experiencing their pain and sorrow. Marianne is broken yet still tries desperately to come to terms with her demons. No one can fix this but her.
From quirky characters – madness, and humor; White deftly portrays the complex ways mental health affects personal relationships from all sides- the patient and those who love them.
ECHOES OF FAMILY is a moving novel about hope, regret, recovery, and redemption. An ideal choice for book clubs and group discussions.
Sept Top Picks
“Claypole White’s gift is her ability to put us into the troubled minds of her characters in a way that helps us not only understand them but fall in love with them as well. We discover that while their minds may be different from ours, their hearts are the same.” —Diane Chamberlain,USA Today bestselling author of Pretending to Dance
“Echoes of Family is a masterfully written novel that is both difficult to put down, and difficult to forget after the final page. In this powerful novel, Claypole White weaves that narrative that draws the reader into a personal relationship with the characters and has you rooting for them, in spite of their many flaws. This book kept my attention until all secrets were revealed in its dramatic conclusion. I look forward to many more from Claypole White.” —Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Things We Keep
“Barbara Claypole White has done it again—created a quirky cast of characters and then taken us along as they go on a journey through madness and out the other side. Music, England, love, loss, and nature all collide in this beautiful exploration of how the echoes of our past can sometimes drown out the present. Matthew Quick fans will feel right at home.” —Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of Spin and Hidden
“Echoes of Family is emotional storytelling at its best, crafted, as always, with Barbara Claypole White’s signature wit and charm. Filled with riveting characters and the poignant unraveling of long-buried secrets, White’s latest is both lovely and gritty, heartrending and heartwarming; a story about tragedy, resilience, and the one thing that ultimately holds us all together—family.” —Barbara Davis, author of Summer at Hideaway Key and Love, Alice
About the Author
A Brit living in North Carolina, Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Her debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and The In-Between Hour was chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick. Her third novel, The Perfect Son, was a semifinalist in the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fiction. For more information, or to connect with Barbara, visit her website.