Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell
CHERGUI’S CHILD by Jane Riddell
3 out of 5 stars.
Genre: Family/relationship drama, with themes of extramarial affairs, pregnancy, death, eating disorder.
Chergui’s Child is the story of Olivia, whose aunt has just died; to her surprise, she is left a large amount of money in the will. Olivia is a troubled woman; her relationship with her mother is difficult, to put it mildly, and she has an eating disorder. Early in the book, she receives a letter that reveals a startling revelation; this sends her on a life-changing journey.
The novel alternates between her present dilemmas, which include her mother contesting the money left by the aunt, and the past, when she was a medical student having an affair with her tutor, Richie, whose wife had her own problems. I’m a fan of this structure, and in this case the slow building up of the past-that-led-to-the-present made it much more interesting than just a straight story.
Olivia travels to France and to Gibraltar as more revelations provide missing pieces in her life’s jigsaw. Generally, the family dynamics of all characters involved are well drawn. I did think that, generally, there was too much domestic/conversational minutiae that was not needed for the plot, and slowed it down. Some of the characters came alive to me (Martin, Richie, Dorothy and Roz), some didn’t; alas, for me, Olivia fell in the latter group. The only emotion I felt towards her was slight irritation at her naïveté; she didn’t understand that age-old cliché and truth of the mistress of a married man: that once you become problematic or needy you no longer supply the romantic fantasy, and are, thus, dispensible. Mostly, I felt no connection with her.
I was a little unsure about the feasibility of some elements: Olivia is told about her inheritance by her own solicitor two days later after her aunt dies, and the funeral is the next day. In my experience, it takes a couple of days even for the death certificate to come through, before you can begin to arrange funerals, which takes a week at the very least, and I would have thought that Olivia’s solicitor would have had to wait for instruction from executors, etc. Also, in the flashback chapters, a tragic death takes place in Morocco that is central to the plot, but I was unconvinced by some practicalities and subsequent reactions of the character involved.
I liked many parts of this novel, but on the whole, for me, it lacked a spark that would have made it memorable. But the writing flows well, and I am sure readers who like easy-read, emotional family dramas would enjoy it.
Thirty-something Olivia is recovering from a traumatic event five years earlier, when she is summoned to the bedside of her dying aunt, Dorothy. Shortly afterwards, she learns that her aunt has left her a large sum of money and a letter with a startling revelation. From Morocco to London to the south of France, this is the story of one woman’s journey to make her life whole again.
Jane Riddell grew up in Glasgow, Scotland but defected to Edinburgh in her thirties, after living in New Zealand and Australia. For many years she worked for the NHS as a dietitian and health promoter. In 2006 she took a career break to move with her family to Grenoble, France, for three years. During this time she wrote more seriously, so seriously that when she returned to Edinburgh she decided to make writing her ‘job’.
Jane writes contemporary fiction, and is a keen blogger, including penning letters from a Russian cat. She is always on the lookout for interesting authors to interview for her Papillon blog. If you fit this category, email her on: Riddell.Jane@gmail.com
Jane holds a Masters in Creative Writing. In 2011 she started a small editing business, Choice Words Editing.