‘I would caution you against delving into the past. The past is often best left exactly where it is.’
Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them.
Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult.
As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother’s past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost.
An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.
The death of a relative always seems to open up a huge can of worms that can never be put back in the tin and so it proved for Emma. The death of her mother Margaret sent her and us the reader into the past, to an era where children born out of wedlock were shunned, mother’s derided for being ‘loose’ the father never the one at fault.
Indeed the opening chapter of The Girl In The Maze made for uncomfortable reading, yet Hayward had a reason, one that saw Emma’s grandmother feel the full of force of her own mothers scorn, the desperation that Betty felt at her situation. But Hayward balanced that with love, tenderness and hope, of the possibilities that might lay ahead.
Those possibilities would have ramifications for Margaret and indeed for Emma who wanted to know why their relationship was always so strained, the birth of Emma’s own daughter the final straw as they finally lost touch.
What I liked was Haywards ability to convey the hurt that each of these women felt at their treatment, how it transferred down the line. the same mistakes made, an end never in sight. They all had courage, bravery, society the one common barrier, the whispers behind backs, the homes women were sent to, forced adoptions all played their part. I loved that Hayward gave Emma determination and courage to buck the trend, to not stop until she had all the answers no matter what it meant for her on a personal level.
The answers themselves were unpleasant, shame, avoidance, the brushing under the carpet of actions, events that would rock the boat hastily ignored. For Emma it was a truth that mattered, that finally gave her some form of closure, of new beginnings and an appreciation of her own family.
Hayward’s sensitive handling of the themes was to be admired, their place in the novel timely and relevant and not used for mere drama or shock factor. Yes they may act as triggers for some readers, but it was a novel that informed, that wove a powerful story in a wonderful way.
I would like to thank Agora Books for a copy of The Girl In The Maze to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour
About the author
Cathy Hayward trained as a journalist and edited a variety of trade publications, several of which were so niche they were featured on Have I Got News for You. She then moved into the world of PR and set up an award-winning communications agency. Devastated and inspired in equal measure by the
death of her parents in quick succession, Cathy completed The Creative Writing Programme with New Writing South out of which emerged her debut novel The Girl in the Maze about the experience of mothering and being mothered. It won Agora Books’ Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize 2020 and was longlisted for the Grindstone Literary Prize 2020.
When she’s not writing (or reading) in her local library, Cathy loves pottering in second-hand bookshops, hiking and wild camping. She lives in Brighton – sandwiched between the Downs and the sea – with her husband, three children, and two rescue cats – one of whom thinks he’s a do.