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Book Club: The Light Through the Leaves

"One unbearable mistake at the edge of the forest".

Mother of three, Ellis, often finds nature as her place of refuge. In a moment of intense emotion and distraction, Ellis mistakenly leaves her baby, Viola, unattended and drives away from the woods. In the short time it takes for her to realise, and return, the child is gone. This is the final straw in an already fractured marriage and she falls into despair and guilt, drowning herself in alcohol and drugs.

The only solution she sees is to leave it all behind. Ellis fears becoming her own mother, something she believes is inevitable, so removes herself from her family’s lives and takes to the mountain wilderness.

Spending time in nature has always been Ellis’ escape, and Vanderah’s writing describes the mountain environment beautifully. The journey is heartbreaking and tragic at times, though thoughtfully explored by the author.

Intertwined is the story of Raven, home-schooled and isolated, a beautiful and naive young girl. Her mother has secrets and Raven is not allowed to see other people. An encounter in the woods with some local children opens Raven’s eyes to the outside world, and now she wants to know more.

The novel is told through the eyes of these two characters, both lovers of nature and struggling with their individual issues. Themes of addiction, secrets, forgiveness, trust and love are brought together in a moving and for some, maybe too neat an ending.

A well crafted novel, with absorbing characters and difficult subjects that was moving and delightful and although difficult to read in parts, I found it impossible to put down.

The Light Through the Leaves, written by Glendy Vanderah, published 2021, reviewed by Tess.

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