01 Aug The Choice by Penny Hancock
Family tensions run high in this well-paced drama
An estranged daughter. A missing grandson. A mother faced with an impossible choice.
As soon as I read these three sentences on the book blurb, I just knew I had to read Penny Hancock’s latest book! It promises so much in the way of emotion and suspense.
The story opens with the missing grandson, enough to put any reader’s heart in their mouth without any added angst – but there is plenty more to come.
Relationship therapist Renee is deeply involved in her grandson’s day to day care. So what could have made her forget to pick up six-year-old Xavier from school?
As soon as Renee realises her mistake, she rushes to the school only to find Xavier is missing. All different horrific scenarios play through her mind.
Has he been abducted by his estranged father? By a stranger? Or has he wandered off to explore the wetlands near their island home, and got caught in the incoming tide?
The police are called, her daughter rushes home. Renee’s disabled husband waits and worries with her.
But even as they wait for news, Renee is consumed by guilt that she was side-tracked that afternoon by an issue she cannot disclose to any of them.
Gradually a story unfolds of a family of three children bonded, yet divided, by tragedy when Renee and Tobias’s son George was severely scalded as a baby.
It was the first in a chain of events that led to their middle child Irena leaving home at a tender age and distancing herself from her family.
Her refusal to come home when Tobias had a stroke enraged her father and siblings. Only Renee still longs for her to return to the family fold.
The longer Xavier is missing, the more old resentments resurface – leading to Xavier’s mum, Mia giving her own mother a heartbreaking ultimatum.
This was a strong and satisfying emotional read, delving deeply into family dynamics and posing questions of who shares the burden of guilt and innocence when things go horribly wrong.
For all her relationship counselling experience, Renee can’t heal the divisions in her own family. Husband Tobias, Mia and Irena, and even her own mother, present constant challenges in their attitudes towards each other and to Renee.
Ironically it is George, the one who is physically scarred, who seems to carry the lightest emotional burdens in the family. But like, Renee, he will have his work cut out to heal the various rifts made even wider by Xavier’s disappearance.
Along with strong characters and a well-paced, emotional plot, this book carries the reader along with the beauty of its prose. Descriptive writing conjures up the sights and sounds of Renee’s island home in all its wild and wonderful nature, from the crashing tide to the pretty houseboats moored at the harbour.
Engaging, thought-provoking and a reminder that all actions, big or small, have far-reaching consequences that cannot be ignored for ever.
The Choice by Penny Hancock is published by Mantle in hardback and ebook
About the Author
Penny Hancock is the author of internationally bestselling novels including Tideline a Richard & Judy book club pick, The Darkening Hour and A Trick of the Mind and I Thought I Knew You. She writes articles and short stories on family psychology for the national press. Penny divides her time between a village outside Cambridge and her children and grandchildren in London. The Choice is her fifth novel.
Follow Penny on Twitter @PennyHancock
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Mantle at PanMacmillan for the advance copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster