Monday, 24 November 2014

Hush Hush by Gabrielle Mullarkey

I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to review Hush Hush, the new release from Gabrielle Mullarkey. It is a great story of loss, love and learning to live again. It has some really interesting characters and some twists I didnt see coming! I am happy to be able to share my review with you, along with a guest post that Gabrielle has kindly taken the time to write.

I hope you enjoy the post, review and book as much as I have.

Out Now
Published by Corazon books
Purchase from Amazon here

Guest post from Gabrielle

Returning to a book I’d written some years earlier felt like revisiting an old friend. But it was more than a question of updating and editing my novel for a new audience. As I read Hush Hush again, I reconnected not only with much-loved characters, but also with the person I’d been then, and all the hopes, dreams and fears I’d nurtured as I wrote.

I’d been in a very different place – literally – when I first conceived the idea for Hush Hush. I was living in Ireland and earning my keep as a freelance journalist and short story writer, contributing fiction and features to magazines and newspapers, mostly in the UK. 

I had taken a risk and moved to Ireland after meeting an Irishman while on holiday there with a friend. So when I got the idea for Hush Hush, I was inspired by the notion of just such a happenstance meeting, and where it might lead – in the case of my characters, between Angela, a widow taking her first holiday abroad alone, and Conor, the bluff but wryly funny Irishman who plonks down in the plane seat next to her. I then let the pair of them get on with it, and decide where they wanted to go from there.

Soon, Angela’s mum, her best friend Rachel, and Conor’s son Shane were all demanding their share of the spotlight, while Conor’s ex-wife and Angela’s late husband hovered in the background, one refusing to go quietly, the other a spectre at the feast. It gradually became clear to me, as the writer, that both Angela and Conor were damaged by the past in different ways – and in Angela’s case, in a way she hadn’t even imagined. 

After a flurry of publicity around the book, which was also serialised in a magazine, I went on to write a second, and the steady steam of stories and articles continued. 

But my life has changed beyond all recognition since then. It’s almost as if Hush Hush was both a way station and a buoy, tethering me to one time and place, while pointing me towards destinations yet to come. Since I wrote it, I have moved back to the UK, moved house five times, had a host of fascinating freelance jobs, and faced all the upheavals, trials and triumphs in my personal life that everyone experiences. All grist to the writing mill.

But, I am happy to report, I am still with the Irishman I met on that fateful holiday. I like to think of the story of Angela and Conor continuing to run alongside ours, in a similarly life-affirming, unpredictable and slightly muddled way!

The Blurb:

Widowed a year ago, thirtysomething Angela has retreated into her shell, reluctant to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. Between them, her bossy mum and her best friend gently nudge Angela back to life, persuading her to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor.

Back home, Angela resolves to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and a temperamental ex-wife with Pre-Raphaelite hair. Since Angela’s never liked winging it, is a future with Conor too uncertain to contemplate?

But as she’s about to discover, her old life was far less secure than she thought. And the past won’t let go until she confronts its long-buried secret.

My Review:

Hush Hush tells the story of Angela, a woman in her thirties who, after losing her husband, is venturing into the big bad world again. With some encouragement from her Mum and best friend Angela blags her way into a new job with a magazine. When offered the job and asked if she can start immediately Angela panics and lies saying she has a holiday booked. She takes advantage of this time to go off on her first holiday alone. On the way back she is sat next to a man called Conor. Conor, thanks to a luggage mix up and visit to her doorstep becomes a key character in the story and a new love interest.

However things arent plain sailing! Given all the sorrow that Angela has suffered after losing her husband as a reader I just wanted her to find a nice job, a good man, and some happiness. Enter Shane, Conor's son who isn't quite as happy about his Dad meeting Angela as Conor is. What a little brat!!! I could quite happily have given him a good shake a few times. It seems that no matter how much of an effort Angela makes his is determined to be as mean as possible.

Just as things seem to be settling down enter Conor's ex wife with another spanner in the works. She wants to move back to the UK and live with Conor and Shane again. When she doesn't get her own way her actions become more dramatic. Will the relationship between Angela and Conor survive?

I wasn't quite sure what to make of Conor. I can appreciate that your children are your number one (I know my daughter is and always will be), but I wanted him to stand up for Angela a bit more, and show her some more consideration, particularly after all she has been through. There are times when I found his behaviour quite cold and I am still not certain I like his character.

This is not just a book telling the story of a woman finding a new job and man. I found it alot more compelling than that. I really enjoyed the complexity of some of the relationships in the book. There were twists and turns that I didn't see coming at all. Not only the relationship with Conor and Shane, but also with her Mum, her best friend Rachel, and surprisingly her husband. There are secrets that emerge that had me going 'oh wow, I didn't see that coming'. I can't say too much as it will spoil it for other readers, but it made you realise you don't always know someone as well as you think, and sometimes you should trust your gut instinct. Oh, and that even though its not always obvious, Mums love you and will always look out for you.

There is also another element of intrigue as I tried to work out what had happened that had caused Angela to quit her job in London a few years earlier. We know that it's an incident relates to the underground, and since that time she is reticent to travel which of course rears it's head when she gets the new job that is in London. I automatically assumed she had witnessed a person on the tracks....but not necessarily so. It is clear how much her ordeal has affected her, and I was willing her to face it and overcome her fear. As someone who has suffered from anxiety I could strongly connect with her feelings and wanted to jump in and help her out.

I really grew to like Angela. Not only has she had a terrible loss, but there are lots of niggling doubts and regrets about the argument they had the night before her husband died. I was rooting for her throughout to find happiness, overcome her fears and insecurities and be treated with respect and love. Her journey has many surprises on the way which added more layers to the story and kept me as a reader interested.

I very much enjoyed this book. It kept me turning the pages and trying to second guess what was going to happen / what had happened and I loved the fact I didn't see it all coming so there were good elements of surprise.

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