When you look at the impressive number of books written by Sara Alexi, it’s rather amazing – although I have several in my kindle library – that I’ve never read or reviewed one of her books before. Her books have many devoted fans: in fact, I queued in the library one day behind a lady who was giving the staff a really hard time because they didn’t have copies of some of Sara’s books, as she was her favourite author! So I was really rather delighted to be asked to join the blog tour for The Other Daughter, published on 1st November: my thanks to the author for sending an e-copy for review.
Sometimes it takes a blog tour to make you try something you should actually have tried a great deal sooner. And although I’m very attracted by the Greek settings of most of Sara’s other books, this one looked perfect for a “first read” because it’s set in exotic… Yorkshire.
The Other Daughter by Sara Alexi is a compelling and gritty tale, set amongst the wild moors and crooked streets of a Yorkshire Village, following one woman who finally untangles herself from the clutches of a painful past and a self-centred mother.
More than a decade after leaving home Dawn finds herself stuck in a dead-end job, in a rundown flat, while her sister has it all – the husband, children and prestigious job in sunny Australia. Their mum’s favouritism is palpable, and even as she has a terrible fall leaving Dawn to pick up the pieces, nothing Dawn does can live up to her perfect, absent sister.
But still Dawn persists with taking care of her aging and fragile mum, until one day it begins to feel like the only thing standing between Dawn and her happiness is her mother’s continued, pitiful existence…
The one thing I didn’t realise when I took this book on was its subject matter – the care of an ageing and fragile mother was just a little close to home for me, and perhaps made me a little more critical than others would be of some of the “process” issues – like the “NHS visit” fairly early in the book. But that’s really where any criticism ends. As an examination of a relationship between a difficult elderly mother and her only available child, this book was thoroughly excellent.
I must admit I didn’t entirely take to daughter Dawn – my sympathy was a little lacking, particularly when her working hours seemed to be spent avoiding work, chatting with her mate in the canteen, playing Freecell on her phone, swanning off at the least provocation and whingeing about her supervisor. But that relationship with her mother was absolutely spot on – the small details of an elderly person’s life and home, the perfectly reproduced exchanges, the little niggles any daughter would recognise all too well. When her mother “accidentally” – and on more than one occasion – calls her by the name of the absent and more favoured daughter, I could feel her pain. And the more the story developed – and we discovered the background to their difficult relationship – I could have cried for her.
All sound a bit down and depressing? It really isn’t – there are some lovely female friendship moments, nights out at the pub quiz and art class, some nice humorous touches, and Dawn’s brushes with the kindness of strangers on her visits to Little Lotherton on the edge of the moors. And the ending is really uplifting, with a real warmth its telling. You’ll come across characters you may recognise from some of the author’s other books – and this one really looks like a strong foundation for a new series, with the beauty of Yorkshire and a small village community at its centre.
With thanks to Sara (and the lovely Twinkle, who’s been a great support in setting things up), I’m delighted to be able to offer a giveaway – first prize a signed copy of the book (UK only), with five e-books for runners-up (open internationally). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
(Rafflecopter has inexplicably listed the winners in a random order… the winner of the signed book is Julie Ryan. Congratulations Julie – and all the runners up!)
About the author
Sara Alexi is from Oxford in England but now splits her time between there and a tiny rural village in the Peloponnese, in Greece, where she is (very slowly!) renovating a ruined stone farmhouse, whilst observing the Greek way of life and absorbing the culture, to enrich her vision for both writing and painting.
Sara began writing later in life. In school English lessons were a time of confusion, books indecipherable hieroglyphics. Dyslexia was not well understood then and no support was available. Despite her dyslexia Sara qualified as a psychotherapist and ran her own practice for years. Her artistic nature was, at that time, confined to painting and she exhibited widely.
In a casual conversation with a client she discovered that Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and Hans Christian Andersen were all dyslexic, and Sara’s perspective changed. The world of fiction opened to her with this shift in perception and she has been a prolific writer ever since.
She wrote her first novel The Illegal Gardener in 2012 with massive success and The Greek Village series was born which allowed her to became a full time writer over night. Her Greek Village series has been very well received and provides a keenly observed, compassionate insight into the Greek people and culture, and the human condition in general.