From the Publisher
“…matter-of-fact, precise prose and edgy characterizations…”
“… a heartbreaking journey into the aftermath of tragedy.”
Curled Up with a Good Book
"Author Elizabeth Diamond beautifully moves between Jack and Lisa’s voices, exposing their layers of grief and loss in a story that seems to literally bleed with revenge and bittersweet hurt. The author digs deep into the interior lives of her two major players, exploring the redemptive power of loss and of love even as time 'slips like sand through the sieve,' bringing back the past."
"This first novel by British poet Diamond combines realistic themes with a suggestion of the paranormal...Diamond's remarkable talent lies in the engaging immediacy of her characters' voices: we find ourselves compelled by the mundane details of people pulling their lives together."
Diamond's debut is a heartbreaking journey into the aftermath of tragedy. Jack Philips is driving home one night outside of London when he strikes and kills 13-year-old Laura Jenkins. With two small daughters of his own, police officer Jack is devastated, even though the death is ruled accidental. As he struggles to put his life back together, Jack quits his job and his marriage falls apart. He also spots Laura's father, Derek, lurking around his house, accompanied by Laura's ghost. The only other person that sees this ghost is Laura's mother, Lisa, who, crushed by her daughter's death, also undergoes some unexpected changes, from consulting a psychic to asking for a divorce from her increasingly distant husband. Jack and Lisa share narration, though the two characters' voices become almost indistinguishable as they face similar struggles and try to figure out what Laura's ghost is trying to tell them. The tragedies, large and small, continue at a relentless pace, and Diamond takes pains to make palpable the full weight of grief and guilt. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This first novel by British poet Diamond combines realistic themes with a suggestion of the paranormal. Young police officer Jack Phillips strikes and kills 13-year-old schoolgirl Laura Jenkins when she runs in front of his car on a rainy November evening. The incident is ruled an accident, but Jack is haunted by the event-quite literally, as he begins "seeing" the girl outside his house. Jack's life falls apart: he is unable to work, he undergoes counseling, and his marriage disintegrates even as he reconnects with his long-lost father. On a parallel track, Lisa Jenkins also sees her daughter's ghost, eventually coming to believe that Jack is in trouble and needs her help in some way. Laura's ghostly presence is pivotal, but this is not a supernatural tale; instead, the realistic depiction of grieving families contrasts with Laura's elusive appearances, so the reader isn't sure if the sightings are real or a result of grief's magical thinking. Diamond's remarkable talent lies in the engaging immediacy of her characters' voices: we find ourselves compelled by the mundane details of people pulling their lives together. Recommended for all fiction collections.
Tracing the aftermath of a child's accidental death, first-time British novelist Diamond combines elements of a ghost story with those of a psychological thriller. Policeman Jack Philips fatally strikes Laura Jenkins with his car when the child runs into the street from behind a bus. Married with two young daughters, Jack feels overwhelming guilt although he is fully exonerated at the inquest. He begins to see Laura's ghost occasionally. On medical leave, he explores with a sympathetic counselor how his guilt over Laura relates to emotional pain he's tamped down for years concerning his mother's suicide when he was a young child. But he cannot share his feelings with his wife Sam, and their marriage collapses around the time he decides to leave the police department. Meanwhile, Laura's distraught mother Lisa also sees Laura's ghost. She and Laura's father Derek have already drifted apart in their marriage, sleeping in separate bedrooms for years. Now Laura's death sends them down very different paths. Derek becomes obsessed with news reports of children killed in driving accidents and secretly stalks Jack. Lisa is drawn to spiritual remedies. She goes to a tarot reader and to a medium, who not only sees Laura but Lisa's father, who died of a heart attack when Lisa was 14. Like Jack, Lisa finds herself dealing with both her present and past sense of loss. Also like Jack, she reconnects with her surviving parent. Attending a spiritualist church, Lisa is told that Laura is worried about Jack. After she invites Derek (whose inner life, like Sam's, remains mostly unexplored) to a sad, touchingly rendered dinner, Lisa seeks out Jack, now living alone, though still a devoted dad. When Derekattempts a desperate act of revenge, it is thwarted by Laura's ghost. With matter-of-fact, precise prose and edgy characterizations, Diamond shows strong potential despite the spiritual gobbledygook that casts a phony redemptive shadow.
Read an Excerpt
There’s clock time where seconds mount up to minutes and minutes to hours. Where day changes to night and weeks build to months and months to a year, and the years play out on your face and in your thickening waist. The time most of us live in.
Then there’s the other sort. It has no limits. It reels you backwards without warning, spins you young again on a whim. It can be triggered by anything: a fragment of music, a scent on the air. Or a child moving in a blue school uniform in the rain. It claims you in dreams, on the borders of sleep, even in your waking moments when you think you’re safe.
A child moved out suddenly from the rear of a bus, ran in a blue smudge of uniform through the misted rain, moved out from that forward linear tick-tock time into the other, where she’s caught forever, like a broken leaf in a whirlpool current. I’ve seen her a thousand times. Running through the blue shadows in the rain. Stopped by a screech of brakes and my voice shouting. Stopped by the sudden boom of my heart.
Her name was Laura. I found that out later in the station. Bob Lees was on duty that night. He sat me down in the interview room, fetched me a coffee, and handed me a cigarette. I’d given up months ago but none of that mattered now–my old life wiped out now like a cloth wiping a smudge from glass.