Touchstone, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Tim Davis
r. Dafydd Woodruff, a successful surgeon in Cardiff, Wales, has been married for six years to his beautiful wife Isabel. Increasing tensions in their marriage, because of Isabel's frustrated hopes of becoming pregnant, reach an ironic boiling point when Dafydd receives a letter from a stranger - Miranda Hailey, an adolescent girl who lives in Moose Creek, Northwest Territories, Canada.
ccording to Miranda's shocking claim - supported by her mother's assertions - the young girl and her twin brother Mark are Dafydd's children. More than a little baffled as well as perturbed by Miranda's letter, Dafydd reluctantly discusses the volatile issue with his wife, and insists that his brief time as a visiting physician fourteen years earlier in Moose Creek did not include any intimate involvement with Sheila Hailey, the mother of the twins who now claim Dafydd as their father.
ith that as the opening catalyst, the adroitly constructed narrative of Kitty Sewell's
moves easily between scenes in Cardiff and Moose Creek (in 1992 and 2006) as readers follow Dafydd, through his past and present, as he searches for and confronts the truth about his relationships with Sheila, his wife Isabel, and others.
n 1992, an unmarried Dafydd, running away from professional and personal problems at home, had gone to Moose Creek where he met some remarkable people and had life-changing experiences; in 2006, with his marriage perhaps irreparably damaged, Dafydd makes a desperate return to Moose Creek - a place where he feels he has been falsely accused and entrapped by Sheila Hailey, a complicated and mysterious nurse Dafydd had known fourteen years earlier.
owever, a DNA test - which would seem to be irrefutable evidence - establishes Dafydd's paternity. So, back in that isolated and intriguing arctic community, Dafydd, in spite of the tremendous personal costs to himself and others, has no choice but to revisit the passions and secrets of the past. What he will ultimately discover is a series of shocking, destructive, and redemptive ironies.
s a compelling character study - one that looks at the ways in which the past and present can collide and force people to reevaluate their definitions of truth, honor, and commitment -
succeeds as an absorbing, suspenseful, and atmospheric debut novel by an author who has a flair for writing about erotic tensions and haunting ironies.
- short listed for both the
Crime Writer Association's New Blood Award
Hay Festival Welsh Book of the Year
- is highly recommended.
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