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Posts Tagged ‘Francesca Jakobi’

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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

My Thoughts & Review:

Do you ever read a book and feel profoundly moved by the story, the writing and the characters?  This is a book that does just that.

In Bitter, the reader is privy to the mind of Gilda, an obsessive woman who is determined to interject herself into the life of her son and his new bride.  She is a troubled woman who seeks the love of her son, the same son she walked out on when he was a child, who now as an adult barely has any connection with her.
Such a complex character that we get to watch as she navigates life as a young girl in Germany before being shipped off to boarding school in England.  While Gilda’s memories of these times give an insight into the woman she became, their impact giving shape to the qualities she possesses in later life, readers will also experience the relationship between Gilda and her parents.  The lack of maternal guidance or emotional attachment is startling to witness, and I think goes some of the way towards explaining the holes that appear in Gilda’s knowledge of married life and parenting.  However, that’s not to say that this is merely a case of nature versus nurture, there are so many things that make a person.

Throughout the narration, readers cannot help but feel some sympathy towards Gilda, there are events outwith her control that throw her into turmoil.  There are also decisions that she makes that we cannot fully comprehend or justify but somehow we go along with it, waiting to see what will come of them.  Her desperation to reconnect with her son Reuben is heartbreaking.  She wants to atone for her mistakes, she realises that the things she did in the past have caused a wedge between them and in her mind, the best way to build bridges is to place herself in the middle of Reuben’s life.  Her methods are unorthodox, following her new daughter in law around is perhaps not the best of ideas, bordering on sinister when you realise that she’s casually bumping into Alice after walking past the hair salon several times whilst Alice attends an appointment etc.

The style of writing makes this book a captivating and quick read, I found that I was driven to keep reading to see where this would lead.  I desperately wanted to find out what would happen to Gilda, Reuben and Alice.  I wanted to continue to following Gilda’s revelations and see how her mind shaped around the memories she held once she stopped relying on manipulations.
The sense of setting in this is astounding, attention to detail brings the story alive, I felt like I could see the fashions and the hairstyles mentioned in the book, could feel the horrible, paralysing fear that Gilda experienced, this was a completely immersive read, one that when I picked it up, time merely stopped around me.

I don’t always comment on the cover of books, but in this instance I cannot let this over pass me by without saying how incredibly beautiful it is.  It suggests danger, it oozes class and grabs the eye, making you want to reach out and touch it.  The textured look to the over makes me want to stroke it, feel the ridges that look so touchable.

This is without a doubt a wonderfully powerful read, one that gets the reader thinking and asking questions of themselves as well as of the characters.  The emotional pull of the story is one that will resonate with many people, at it’s heart, this is a story about relationships and their impacts.  It is an exceptional exploration of maternal relationships and the damage that can occur.

Very highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of Bitter via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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