Let The Light Shine by Nick Alexander
Published September 2016 by BIGfib Books
My copy: ARC
*** A big thank you to the author for sending me an advance review copy of this novel ***
Penny and Victoria are about as different as two siblings can be, one with a smart London lifestyle, the other struggling to make ends meet.
But they are joined by more than blood, and their shared tragic past is affecting the present more than they realise.
When events begin to tug at the fabric beneath which dark secrets are hidden, the resulting chaos threatens to tear the two families apart.
Could there be aspects of the past that youngest child Penny doesn’t remember? Could the truth of Marge be more complex than the beloved mother the girls choose to perceive? And could the true story of that terrible Christmas be the key to understanding Victoria, Marge, and much much more?
I do enjoy reading about dysfunctional families, and the one portrayed here is fascinating. Penny is over-worked and under-appreciated, and gets minimal help from her stoned artist husband Sander.
Meanwhile sister Vicky seemingly lives the good life in London with her rich husband – but of course everything isn’t as it seems, as she’s worryingly reliant on her Valium … and what’s wrong with her son Bertie?
But most terrifying of all is mum Marge, who is critical of everything both her daughters do – and also plays them off against the other. She’s definitely the villain of the tale here, and I found myself most enjoying the sections where she was present!
At the heart of this family’s problems are the events of one Christmas 40 years ago. We have a brief glimpse into this fateful day at the very start of the book, and we are left to work out exactly what happened.
I found this a really easy and enjoyable read, and I got through it in just a day. I found almost all the characters really frustrating at times – I particularly thought Sander needed a good talking to and was annoyed that Penny was so soft with him – but as the novel progresses you definitely find out more about why the characters act as they do and this enables you to become more sympathetic towards them. I liked the seaside setting of Penny’s home, in contrast to Vicky’s London flat, and I also enjoyed when the book travelled to other parts of the UK for short bursts.
Even without the mystery of what happened all those years ago, the story works well on its own as we have more than enough family drama to keep things interesting! There is also a storyline involving one of the young characters coming to terms with their sexuality, and I thought this was handled really sensitively by the author.
Overall, I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who likes a good family drama with lots of dysfunctional characters – and a bit of a mystery to solve too.
My rating: 8 out of 10