I’m really excited about sharing my review of Only a Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter as part of the blog tour. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invite.
About this book…
ONLY A MOTHER . . .
Erica Wright hasn’t needed to scrub ‘MURDERER’ off her house in over a year. Life is almost quiet again. Then her son, Craig, is released from prison, and she knows the quiet is going to be broken.
COULD BELIEVE HIM
Erica has always believed Craig was innocent – despite the lies she told for him years ago – but when he arrives home, she notices the changes in him. She doesn’t recognise her son anymore.
COULD LIE FOR HIM
So, when another girl goes missing, she starts to question everything. But how can a mother turn her back on her son? And, if she won’t, then how far will she go to protect him?
COULD BURY THE TRUTH
I have read both previous books by Elisabeth Carpenter so feel well qualified to say that Only A Mother is her best book so far! I always review in order to spread the book love to other readers but only very rarely do I feel compelled to message an author to tell them how their book has made me feel! There was a point about half way through this book that a simple paragraph hit me so hard that I unbelievably burst into tears! And after staying up late to finish the book last night, I’ve been unable to move on from it today and pick up anything else to read as I still feel emotionally connected and involved in the life of Erika, mother of a convicted murderer. A major book hangover has left me unable to even put the book back on my shelf-another sign that there’s a big possibility of this book being one of my favourite reads of the year already! It was a perfect example of my favourite genre and that puts me under so much pressure as I need to try and communicate why!
I looked at my previous reviews for this Author’s books before I attempted to write this one and I found a passage that also applies so well to this book that I’ve used it again here…
If you’re looking for an action packed, twist upon twist rollercoaster of a psychological suspense then this book probably isn’t for you! But I personally love Elisabeth Carpenters books so I hope that other people will also pick up this book and enjoy it, which is why I’ve tried to bring an understanding of her style to my review. Her books are subtly crafted and the tension is very slowly built up across the viewpoints of her characters whilst also drawing in those who have been the most affected by the issues raised. She takes normal families and uses difficult situations to explore the emotional dilemmas that face them and how they cope.
And that is exactly how I felt here as well. Erika was a relatable character for me as a mother because I think every parent worries about how they have brought up their child, hoping that they have made the right decisions and will be proud of the adult they become. But what if the sweet, loving child you tuck up in bed every night ends up a convicted killer. You can’t turn off your love for that child completely as there is always the hope and conviction at the forefront of your mind that your child couldn’t possibly have done the things they have been found guilty of. And this is true even more so in today’s society where it is becoming more and more culturally acceptable to blame others for any of your child’s misdemeanours. But Erika was a wonderfully sketched character who was gradually shaded in so we didn’t see her decisions in black and white but were able to look deeper into her eyes to see the past as her true colours came alive. She was braver than I would have been, staying in her hometown, in the house that both she and Craig were born and bred into and punishing herself by dealing with the daily attacks on her family by members of her own community.
Everything about Only A Mother worked for me. The plot was carefully brought to fruition even though I had my mind made up about who/what/why well before the end. The setting was recognisably authentic and even though it was painted as a bleak habitat there were some exquisite comparisons to the life Craig lived whilst in prison. But ultimately it was the character development that wormed its way into my heart and gave it a great big squeeze. Erika and Luke especially were flawlessly brought to life which was ironic because it was ultimately their own flaws that made them feel so convincing.
Elisabeth Carpenter is now right up there with my favourite authors and this book is one I will remember for a very long time. I loved it from start to unexpected finish. Just stunning!
Meet the author…
Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She was awarded a Northern Writers’ New Fiction award, and was longlisted for Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015).