Blog tour feature: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

By | March 29, 2016

A perfect life… until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

It’s an immense pleasure today to be part of the ongoing blog tour for In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings – published by Orenda Books, already available as an e-book and a signed and numbered exclusive limited edition hardback from Goldsboro Books (yes, I have mine proudly on display…), but now to be published in paperback on 7th April. You’ll find my review here – I was privileged to be an early reader, and I can only repeat that I’ve rarely come across a book that is so perfect, and that moved me so deeply. 

I’m delighted to welcome author Amanda Jennings to Being Anne, with a guest post that I particularly requested. The depiction of grief and loss at the book’s opening was simply stunning, shown through exquisitely chosen details that told far more than any explanation – so I asked Amanda if she could tell me a little more about it…

Grief is one of those emotions which none of us can escape. At some stage in our lives we will all have to face losing someone we dearly love. My first taste of grief was losing our beloved dog when I was seventeen. I’d lost pets before – we lived in a house that was constantly full of animals – but losing him was like nothing that had come before and when my mother told me he had gone I felt a physical kick of grief to my stomach. For the rest of the day, I lay in bed, curled up, clutching my knees to my chest and sobbing. The next time was when a dear friend was killed in a car accident at the age of nineteen. 

Nothing can protect you from grief. It’s an emotion that is both universal and yet so very personal when it hits. Everybody reacts differently to grief. There is no set way. Some people want to hide their grief away and come to terms with it privately. Others need to share their sadness, requiring affection, understanding, or counsel in order to process their feelings. I write a lot about grief. It’s an emotion that fascinates me. 

In Her Wake opens with a family facing the death of a mother and wife. It was important for me to talk about Henry Campbell’s grief for his wife early on in the book. I needed to set the scene, needed the reader to understand that he is floored by her death, left somewhat helpless, that his life centred around her and without her he is struggling. 

In the opening pages of the book we join Bella returning to her childhood home for her mother’s funeral. She is met by her father, visibly frailer, with his cardigan buttoned up wrongly. This image is a stark reminder for Bella that her mother is dead, for if she’d been alive the cardigan ‘would have been rebuttoned with an impatient tut and a sigh as she neatened him’ for her arrival. 

When Bella walks into the house, there is an unusual absence of fresh cut flowers, and she notes that her mother would have been annoyed her father forgot to cut some, reiteration that not only has normality shifted and Henry’s life changed, but that his wife was very much in control of him and also the day to day functioning of their lives. 

This is a theme that plays great prominence as the story unfolds and its relevance becomes increasingly important. Soon grief is replaced by shock and tension as Bella discovers a family secret that alters everything she thought she knew, but it’s the grief that Henry Campbell carries in the first chapters that I want the reader to keep in mind as the true extent of past crimes reveals itself.

Perfect, Amanda – and so is In Her Wake. Everyone, please read it. 

My thanks to Amanda and Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for welcoming me as part of the initial launch, and for including me in the tour. Do check out the other stops.

Amanda Jennings lives just outside Henley-on-Thames with her husband and three daughters. In Her Wake is her third novel. She is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club, and enjoys speaking at literary festivals, libraries and book clubs. When she isn’t writing she can mostly be found walking her dog and dreaming of being up a mountain or beside the sea. She writes a blog and is an active user of social media.