When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.
One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?
This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.
The Darlings, Mark and Sadie a normal couple in a normal everyday marriage but what if you looked below the surface? Would all be well or would there be little ripples just waiting to became something more? Of course Jackson wasn’t going to let Mark and Sadie carry on with their everyday life’s she was going to examine the minutiae of their marriage, open up the cracks and make them, especially Mark decide just what was important.
We all have flaws but Jackson gave Mark a few more than normal, an incident as a school boy and his accidental killing of a fellow pupil haunted his life, wife Sadie the one who quite literally put him back together. Yet Jackson gave us a fed up Mark, a mundane life, the trauma of IVF, and a new baby on the way seemed to make him exhausted, stuck in a rut until a chance meeting with an old school friend, Ruby. And that’s where the trouble began but also where Jackson very cleverly and slowly picked Marks life apart.
What did Ruby offer that Sadie couldn’t. For me it seemed to be a better understanding of the accidental killing of his best friend. She was there, she knew how much it had hurt him, but she also offered escape from everyday life, excitement, the thrill of forbidden assignations. Did I hate him for it, no I didn’t, Jackson actually made me feel a modicum of sympathy, of a man who clearly needed a break, who perhaps needed something to awaken the senses, the appetite for life.
I did feel sorry for Sadie, the strong one, the fixer, the one with drive and ambition but perhaps she need to wake up too, to emerge from the anguish of infertility and to realise that their relationship mattered just as much as a new baby.
Mark and Ruby became bolder, took more risks, and you knew the inevitable would surely happen. What you didn’t know was if Mark and Sadie would survive, or if the grass really was greener on the other side.
Whatever the outcome I revelled in Jackson’s ability and skill in pulling apart a marriage, a man and the wonderful story she was able to tell.
I would like to thank Eye and Lightening for a copy of The Darlings to read and to review and to Damp Pebbles Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Angela Jackson is a former psychology lecturer and teacher trainer. Her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award and was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year.
The Darlings is her second novel.
Originally from the north of England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh.
Purchase Links:Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3cpZ7gk
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3v3OgiD