The Godforsaken Daughter by Christina McKenna

Great book cover! Great title!

I haven’t even sampled the first page or first chapter yet. The tractor, the crow, the sky!  Mar 17  The Godforsaken Daughter by Christina McKenna released today for ! my 5 Star here:

Okay, one day later, I’m back. Beautifully written, with a compelling heroine that far too many women will identify with. Ruby Clare wants to take over the farm when her dad dies, but Mom says “you can’t” – so the dairy herd is sold off, the land rented out. The opening pages are riveting, with skillful weaving of backstory and how a sensible woman mourns. Ruby knits. “Stagnation could haul you down depression’s road, with only indolence and self pity for company along the way…Emotions were dangerous. They pointed to a sensitive nature, or ‘a weakness’ in mother-speak.”

Then there’s Henry, “cursed with a listener’s face.” Psychiatry is the perfect career for “silent, attentive Henry,” but he somehow misses any warning signs that his wife might leave him, abruptly, without explanation.

Mysteries abound. Martha, Ruby’s long-suffering, martyred, control freak of a mother, sends her to the attic to find and burn a certain case with a picture of a naked woman on the front, a “filthy thing,” associated with sooth-sayers in the family. Oh, and don’t expect to see Dad or his kin in heaven. Now that he’s dead, Martha can safely say he was “not a good one.”

A new mystery shows up before Ruby even gets to the attic – “A tractor was driving into the field Vincent Clare had died in. The field her mother promised Ruby she would never rent out.” Don’t you just love this mother?

You’ll want to meet Jamie, the man on the tractor, and find out what’s in Grandma Edna’s old case. This is a fun novel, intelligent, warm, authentic, and not to be missed. I’ll add more details to this review, but I’ve got to get my own novel to press (Ironwolf).

Lake Union Publishing (March 17, 2015)

When Ruby Clare’s father was alive, they toiled together happily on their dairy farm in Northern Ireland. Since his death, Ruby—thirty-three, plump but comely—has been forced indoors and made a domestic drudge for Martha, her endlessly critical mother, and her prettier younger sisters, May and June.

But everything changes when Ruby finds her late grandmother’s old case in the attic. Among its strange contents: a curious, handmade volume called The Book of Light.

As Ruby delves into its mysterious pages, she’s enticed into a most beguiling world, whose allure and magnetic power she finds irresistible.

Martha, convinced that her newly empowered daughter is going crazy, enlists the help of the kindly parish priest, and then psychiatrist Henry Shevlin. Henry appears imperturbable, yet is inwardly reeling from his wife’s unexplained disappearance the previous year.

As Ruby undergoes therapy, she meets local bachelor farmer Jamie McCloone. Through their shared loneliness and isolation the two find the courage to connect. But will Ruby’s mother allow her daughter the happiness she so richly deserves?

The Godforsaken Daughter is an unforgettable peek into small-town life in Ireland’s recent past. It’s a glorious successor to McKenna’s first two “Tailorstown” novels, The Misremembered Man and The Disenchanted Widow.

Christina McKenna grew up on a farm near the village of Draperstown in Northern Ireland. She attended the Belfast College of Art, earned an honors degree in fine art, and studied English in postgraduate studies at the University of Ulster. She has lived, worked, and painted pictures in Spain, Turkey, Italy, Ecuador, and Mexico.

Writing books, she says, is a real challenge. It is, however, emotionally and spiritually rewarding in ways she’d never dreamed of before she published her first book, “My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress,” a memoir of her journey to adulthood, and of the extraordinary people who shared that journey, her dear departed mother in particular. Christina dedicated the book to her.

The genesis of “The Misremembered Man” came to her in a particularly lucid dream — evidence that, in some cases, dreams do indeed come true!

Contrary to certain press reports, the film rights to “The Misremembered Man” have not been sold.

The sequel, “The Disenchanted Widow,” revisits Tailorstown, the setting for the first novel. It was published to great acclaim by Amazon on August 27, 2013.

Fans of “The Misremembered Man” will be pleased to learn that the sequel sees a return of the inimitable Rose McFadden, as well as a couple of minor characters from the same book. It also features an enigmatic parish priest, Father Cassidy, whom Christina based on an individual from her childhood. The situations and occurrences involving Cassidy are also based on actual events.

The paranormal holds tremendous interest for her. This is in part due to the fact that the farmhouse of her childhood was subjected to a prolonged haunting when she was eleven years old. Eventually, an exorcist banished the entity — but not Christina’s abiding curiosity in such matters.

This interest has produced two books so far. The first was entitled, “The Dark Sacrament,” which she co-authored with her husband, David M. Kiely. The second is “Ireland’s Haunted Women.” Both recount recent cases of paranormal activity in Ireland, as seen through the eyes of the haunted and their “deliverers.”

Christina is currently working on the third novel in the Tailorstown series. Entitled “The Godforsaken Daughter,” it’s scheduled for publication in 2015.

She’s also updated and revised her 2004 memoir, “My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress,” which is now available both as a paperback and a Kindle.

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About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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