I’ve read two of Nicole Trope’s previous novels The Boy Under the Table and Hush, Little Bird. I really enjoyed both and likened them to Caroline Overington’s earlier work, or an Australian Jodi Picoult, but found her writing better. She writes suspense centred around a particular issue.
Blame deals with two women who become close friends having met in a clinic with their daughters when they were toddlers. Caro has bright Lex and Anna’s Maya is profoundly autistic. She doesn’t speak, doesn’t like to be touched and becomes violent if she doesn’t get what she wants. Caro supports Anna, beyond what her husband and family can or will, as the girls grow up.
The novel is told as both women are being interviewed by police. Maya has been hit by the car driven by Caro, and died. Answers given, together with flashbacks from both of them show Anna’s life of motherhood that she describes as anxiety, then despair, grief, failure, leaving her broken. While she is very close to Caro and wouldn’t cope without her friendship it is hard for her to watch Lex, as she was ‘everything Anna had imagined Maya would be; everything’.
Caro does have one seemingly perfect daughter, but she always dreamed of a sibling for her, maybe a son. She suffers her own losses and grief and self-medicates with alcohol. ‘It had never occurred to her that something as simple as having children would turn out to be so complicated’. While she drinks she cannot see herself as an alcoholic. They ‘live on park benches. They don’t have houses and children. They don’t do the grocery shopping and the washing, and clean the house. Do they?’
Trope looks at the difficulties these women face, without judgement. This is another great book from her. If you haven’t tried her work before, read this one or any of her previous novels.