Tangled Lives is Hilary Boyd’s second novel and it is the first book I have read from her. It’s always exciting to come across a new author as you never know what to expect, but in this case, I was really pleased. Tangled Lives is a thoughtful and, at times heart-rending story that explores the theme of adoption and the lasting impact it has on everyone involved.
Tangled Lives tells the story of Annie Delancey and her family. Many years ago, when Annie was an unmarried teenager, she gave up her baby son for adoption for what felt like very good reasons. Years later, she is happily married to Richard with a grown up family, but she has never forgotten her other son even though she fully expects to never see him again. Life is unpredictable though, as she discovers one day when out of the blue a letter arrives from Kent Social Services telling her that her now thirty something son, Daniel Gray, would like to make contact. She is both excited and terrified but also determined to see him again. The only problem is, that although Richard knows about her son, she has never told her three children, Ed, Marsha and Lucy, that they have a half brother that she gave away.
Whilst absolutely delighted to have Daniel back in her life, Annie is totally unprepared for the reaction from her family especially from Ed and Richard who both seem jealous of the attention that she is now paying her first son. Both feel threatened for different reasons, but as these feelings worsen, cracks start appearing in the tight close-knit family that Annie has always treasured. Why can’t the others welcome Daniel in the same way that she has done? Is she ultimately going to have to choose between them? What should have been the happiest time of Annie’s life threatens to become the most miserable. Tangled Lives is the sort of book that raises so many questions as one is reading and it’s impossible to decide what one would do in Annie’s circumstances.
Tangled Lives is an extremely well written and enjoyable book. The characters feel very real and it is easy to see all of their different points of view. I found myself hoping, as I was reading, that there would be a way to reconcile all of their differences but it’s impossible to work out which way it is going to go. I felt that the theme of adoption was handled very sensitively and it was fascinating to see not only the perspectives of mother and son but also the fallout that manifests itself in the wider family.
Overall, Tangled Lives is a great book and I hope to read lots more from Hilary Boyd in the future.
Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd
Published by Quercus Publishing, August 2012
Thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy.
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