Fiona McCallum’s latest novel is set in the city, rather than her rural based previous books. This was more relevant and interesting for me, and the storyline had a number of dimensions that were engaging.
Thirty-one year-old Hannah has not had much go wrong in her life. She is happily married to Tristan, is planning on having children, and still gets on well with both of her parents. She even found her mother’s ‘growing frailty and recently acquired slight ditziness quite sweet and endearing’. Then tragedy hits in a major way, and Hannah is all alone.
She does have the support of her long-term friend Samantha and her husband Rob, and soon realises who it is she can count on and truly value. Tristan’s parents had dealt with loss before, and were there for Hannah when she needed them.
Hannah is an efficient, methodical person who liked to tick things off a to-do list, and thinks others might need to take dealing with loss one step at a time, but not her. She throws herself back into work, but finds that grief is not something that can be organised.
She finds she has to ‘create her own new, different everything’, and the ‘getting used to everything being the same but also completely different’ that brings people undone, that she needs to learn to be alone, but that doesn’t have to mean being lonely.
This is an authentic look at loss – bargaining with a god when she is not even religious, the little reminders that come up and crush her, the ‘unpredictable, debilitating rollercoaster that was grief’. For me McCallum has stepped up with this book.