Complex, dysfunctional family relationships, conflict, guilt, betrayal, lies, regret and tragedy Hannah Richell’s books have it all. They are ‘sneak into the toilet to read five more pages’ while hubby changes the baby kind of books.
Having read Hannah’s first novel Secrets of Tides and loved it I couldn’t wait to read this year’s offering Shadow year and it didn’t disappoint. The book is dark and full of secrets hiding in the shadows and corners of a rundown, abandoned lakeside cottage. My mother-in-law said I wouldn’t like it the ending was dark, but I loved it, I was fascinating by the constantly changing hierarchy of relationships in the book and the shocking ending. Working in flashback, Hannah Richell intertwines the story of five friends who drop out of society for a year to live in an isolated cottage with that of Lila, a mother, wife and daughter deep in grief and searching for answers who inherits the cottage 30 years later.
The book has many twists and turns. Will the friends survive their life experiment? Will they still be friends at the end, why did they leave in such a hurry, where does the food come from that mysteriously turns up on their door? For Lila, can she get past her grief? What role does her mother play in her tragedy and in her life story? Will her marriage survive? You keep reading as quick as you can because you have to know.
I think I like Hannah Richell’s books even more because I got to meet her at the 2012 Mudgee Readers Festival. I was sure it was fate. I had read some reviews of her book Secret of Tides, then there she was in the flesh. We chatted, I bought Secret of the Tides, Hannah signed it and somehow as the mum of a new born, I managed to read it. It was brilliant, it was precious child free time well spent! Both of Hannah’s books deal with the tragedy of a family member, secrets, lies and untold stories.
Locations feature prominently in the books. The English seaside in Secrets of Tides and the English cottage here. Hannah’s books are told from multiple female view points, with flash backs between different time periods but always with a secret left untold by one or more family members. Both books feature such floored familial relationships and detailed, insightful reactions to tragedies that I started thinking the only way you could write that way was if you personally experienced tragedy in your own life but Hannah’s authors notes say not. Then again the mark of a great writer is their insight and ability to capture a reader’s attention, this she does with great skill.
So who is Hannah?
Hannah is a pom by birth and an adopted Sydney side Australian by marriage. She is a gorgeous and lovely natured lady from a publishing background where she marketed other people’s books. She is also a mum of two. Here’s hoping that there are many more books to come!
What’s your favourite book?