A Perfect Square by Isobel Blackthorn

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“The Seventies, that accursed decade when the hippies took hold of the occult and turned it into fairy floss.”

That line tickled me! “They were three difficult years. Harriet called it her Persephone period and she broke away from abstract art and produced a series of moody landscapes in pen and ink…” Isobel Blackthorn is a clever author, I very much enjoyed her biting wit. There is almost a dreamlike quality here, with a synaesthetic mother (whose outlet is her art) having the grand idea to collaborate with her pianist daughter. But there are problems between them, and with her bum of a boyfriend costing her a job Ginny must move back in with her mother. Bad love chases her friends and future away but there may be hope yet. Harriet is attuned to happenstance and all things esoteric, in their collaboration even something as simple as the number of paintings can set off unease in her gut. Harriet also fears her daughter’s true reason for returning is to “taunt her mother with the past”. After-all, Ginny wants to know where her daddy is as much now as she did when she was just a 7 yr old little girl. Symbolism through dreams, artistic vision and a father that cannot be talked about because maybe he is a shadow himself, all of this makes for one strangely unique story. Some mysteries are better left unsolved, some skeletons better left dancing in your closet but maybe Ginny can’t help her obsession with needing her father.
How are Judith and Madeline’s stories intertwined with theirs? What does Madeline have to do with Ginny’s father? Maybe Harriet’s silence about her father all these years will finally make terrible sense. This is a mystically strange tale.

Odyssey Books  Pub Date 29 Aug 2016

 

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