This, the debut novel by Orla Broderick is the story of Mary, a single mother living in the Highlands of Scotland and trying find herself and to give her daughter the best start in life.
Mary meets Wallace, a man with few redeeming features other than he looks good in a kilt, and then finds herself torn between the various members of his family and her struggles to bring her daughter up while also searching for her own spiritual and sexual identity.
The element I most enjoyed about the book is the obvious connection that Mary feels with nature:
The little robin is perched out on my washing line. ... I search for scraps to scatter. She comes to take them, returns to gently drop the bits in the other beak. A fatter version of herself with a slow stupid look, I presume this is the last of her chicks to fledge.
The whole book is very poetically written, full of lovely phrases. Oddly I felt this sometimes stopped me feeling close to Mary. I also often felt that the individual characters, other than Mary, could have benefited from more consistently and better developed voices.
Having said that, this is a lovely book to read for a different insight into life in the Scottish Highlands and for its portrayal of people living in close connection and awareness of nature.
The January Flower by Orla Broderick, published by Council House Publishing.
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