Posts Tagged ‘isla morley’

Today I am thrilled to welcome Isla Morley to Diary of an Eccentric.  Isla is the author of Come Sunday (read my review), a novel about a woman grieving the death of her young daughter and finding herself again.  Abbe’s friendship with Jenny plays an important role in her healing, and Isla is here to talk about the power of friendship.

Please give a warm welcome to Isla Morley:

When I tell people we recently moved from Hawaii, I get groans of commiseration.  I tell them we lived in Honolulu for seven years before the Bishop appointed my husband to a church in the San Gabriel Valley, and the groans only get louder.  Poor you, they say.  Invariably, I get to hear about the cruises they took around the islands, the luau, the bathwater-warm ocean.  They expect me to miss the same things they do.  It’s a beautiful place and the spirit of aloha is not just hype, but it’s not these things I miss.  I miss my friends.

Since my college days, it’s been rare that I formed the kind of bond that blurs the line between friend and sibling.  But in Hawaii, in a matter of months after relocating there, I’d found three “sisters.”  We met at church but it was at my house on the hill or at the hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant on King Street that our little community grew close.  Because we are each from a different part of the world, it’s like a mini-United Nations whenever we gather.  Occasionally, one of our husbands suggests that these are nothing more than marathon gossip sessions, but we are quick to disagree.  “Solving the world’s problems” is what we call it.

Whenever we get together, it looks something like this.  Samiana, the Tongan, stakes out the best seat at the dining room table, opens her laptop and monopolizes the wine.  She goes online and interrupts the flow of conversation in the kitchen with news flashes, usually about some politician’s infidelity.  Ranjini, who was raised in Singapore, is a pediatrician and walks around with a spray bottle of disinfectant inspecting my kitchen surfaces.  She never gets tired of me asking her health-related questions.  “I found a mole under my arm the other day, Jini.  Here, see?  Do you think I should be worried?”

Helena, from a little archipelago called The Seychelles, starts chopping veggies for the Masala curry, and clangs pots and pans around to let everyone know that she is the only one doing any work around here.  She’ll occasionally glance over at Samiana, notice the level of wine in the bottle, and give a loud, “Hmph!” of disapproval.

Eventually the food is ready and when the doctor is satisfied that we’ve all washed our hands enough times, we eat.  Feast, really.  I look around the table and I never get tired of the sight.  Each of my friends is a different color than me, and I marvel how a white girl who grew up in apartheid South Africa got so lucky.

Between us now is a great big ocean.  But that is a small thing compared to what we’ve been through together; a puddle, really when you consider all the wonderful times yet ahead.  These women inspired much of Come Sunday, and although the story centers on a terrible tragedy, it is really a testimony to the power of friendship.  We can endure anything when we endure it together.

Thanks, Isla!  I wish you much success and look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

Courtesy of the publisher, I have 1 copy of Come Sunday to offer to my readers.  Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.

To enter, leave me a comment with your e-mail address and tell me a little about your best friend(s).  This giveaway will close on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, at 11:59 pm EST.  The winner will be chosen randomly.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Day and night blur into an endless gloaming from which I cannot escape, not even with the help of the contents of this little bottle.  Has it been a day?  A week?  A month?  The pills are yellow.  The color of cowardice, I think as I swallow two more and replace the bottle on the nightstand.  Why is the song about a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree?  Why do the bumpers of cars have yellow ribbons that say SUPPORT OUR TROOPS on them?  Blue ribbons are more appropriate for boys out fighting a war, for the color of their lips and nails when they are zipped up in their body bags.  Blue for the code that signals no vital signs, blue for the music of inconsolable lamentation.  Yellow is the color of desert sand before the blood of the fallen soaks into it; the color for mommies who cannot get up when their children are stuck in icy drawers in cold cellars.  Yellow is the color of bile, the lingering hue of a bruise.  The color of a kite.

(from Come Sunday, page 35)

Isla Morley’s Come Sunday is another novel sure to make my “best of 2010” list.  Morley takes great care in painting the portrait of a mother’s inconsolable grief and journey toward healing with prose that is both haunting and beautiful.

Set both in Honolulu and South Africa, Come Sunday is the story of Abbe Deighton, pastor’s wife, mother, and writer, whose world crashes to a halt when her three-year-old daughter, Cleo, dies after being hit by a car.  Cleo’s death pushes Abbe into a severe depression, causing her to spend most of the day in bed in a drug-induced slumber, stop eating, and wish for death.  She surrounds herself with Cleo’s belongings, refuses to part with her ashes, and obsessively winds up clocks all over the house to mark the hours and minutes that pass without her daughter.

Abbe is so grief-stricken that she forgets her husband, Greg, lost a child, too.  While Abbe withdraws from the world and lashes out at her husband and her closest friends, Greg turns to the church, and their marriage begins to crumble — though it has been stagnating for some time — because Abbe cannot accept Greg’s grieving process or the support he offers her in an attempt to bring the two of them together during the biggest trial of their lives.  Abbe is stuck because she can’t forgive herself or the people she blames for Cleo’s death, she can’t let go of the pain and learn to live again, and she refuses to make amends with her husband no matter how good he is to her.  Abbe is a woman without faith, at least not in the God her husband serves, and she casts off her role as pastor’s wife…and wife in any capacity.

Throughout her grieving process, she revisits her childhood in South Africa during apartheid — her alcoholic and abusive father, her scared and submissive mother, and the witch doctor who cursed her grandmother’s farm.  Abbe must learn the truth about her long-dead mother and bury the ghosts of her past before she can deal with the pain of the present.

Abbe is a hard character to like, but we really see only her frustration with being recognized just as a wife and mother and then her understandably heavy grief.  I may not agree with the way she treated people, especially her husband, but I respect that everyone grieves differently and I cannot imagine, nor do I want to, the pain that accompanies the loss of a child.  It’s hard to judge the extent of one’s grief when we haven’t walked in their shoes.

Despite the heaviness and darkness, I found it difficult to put the book down.  Morley beautifully describes both Hawaii and South Africa, and her portrayal of grief and its effects on Abbe and Greg’s marriage are emotional without being overdone.  The writing is excellent, and while there is hope for healing, Morley keeps the story real up to the last page.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Come Sunday from publicist Diane Saarinen and Picador for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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