The Darling Girls – Emma Burstall

Victoria is first and foremost a mother to Ralph, a surly teenager in the midst of his A levels and Salome. Eight years old and  full of life. Victoria used to be a cellist, it was this that brought her into contact with the father of her children and the man she loves, her husband.

Maddy is the epitome of strong independent single mother. Her daughter Phoebe, has the best of everything that Maddy can provide. No one is going to help her, she is a successful event manager and thinks nothing of buying the best when she wants because she can. Maddy does not need handouts from the man she loves and the father of her daughter.

Cat, is very young and struggling to find her place in the world. Looking after her sick mother who has never got over the death of her husband, Cat’s father. Something which even Cat is still struggling with means Cat has never focused on anything in her life other than her job, in a book shop where she is not going to go anywhere. Then someone comes in and asks her a question and suddenly Cat is experiencing something else. Cat falls in love with the man.

Victoria’s man is called Leo.

Maddy’s man is called Leo.

Cat’s man is called Leo.

But Leo has died.

These three women are suddenly forced together after his funeral.

Victoria knew about the ‘other’ women and accepted it. But now Leo is dead and left more than a legacy behind she may need to think about what she has put up with the last twenty years and accept the real reason why Leo would not marry her despite her protestations.

Maddy, knew about Victoria and accepted it. She knew nothing about Cat.The legacy Leo leaves is the daughter he fathered and wonderful memories, but is that enough to sustain Maddy.  She continues with her life, not relying on anything from anyone, but then something happens to her and she finds herself brought down to a different level.

Cat, knew about them both and believed Leo when he said that they meant nothing. Leo leaves a legacy which no one can believe and Cat suddenly has a whole different future to worry about.

Leo managed to split himself at least three different ways with these women. Experiencing only certain things with each of them; a love of takeaways; Amy Winehouse music; Classical Music to name a few. But Leo’s legacy is the trust that he obviously never truly had with these women and complete honesty and intimacy which meant he behaved as he did.

This book follows the three main female characters as they come to terms with grief, dishonesty and the acceptance of love in differing circumstances. Life has to go one for many reasons and Victoria, Maddy and Cat suddenly find the strength to do this through the support and help of each other. A unique situation.

The characters are strong, wilful and believable and although Leo could have been cast as the ‘baddie’ because of his actions there came a fleeting moment or too when I actually felt sorry for him. Fleeting though, as I personally could not excuse such behaviour but then that is easy for me to say, being on the outside looking in. Being the reader totally absorbed by this story.

All three of Emma Burstall’s books are excellent and they deal with such differing dynamics of groups of people, in the main women. They are more than fluffy chick lit they make you want to think, they make you want to cry and laugh in equal measures, they are simply good well structured and constructed books.

Thank you to the author Emma Burstall for the opportunity to read her new book. It is available to buy now on Kindle, along with her other two novels Gym and Slimline and Never Close Your Eyes. Links take you to my Amazon reviews. 

Emma Burstall has written extensively for national newspapers and women’s magazines including the GuardianIndependent on SundayRedGood HousekeepingWoman & Home and Woman. She read English at Cambridge University and began her career as a cub reporter on the Western Morning News in Plymouth, later becoming features editor of Woman and Family Circle. Emma lives in South West London with her husband, the political commentator Kevin Maguire, and their three children, aged 25, 20 and 10. She’s currently working on her fourth novel.

(Taken from her website)

I am looking forward to seeing what her fourth novel is all about. This is an author who is probably not as well known as many and I hope in future years and books that changes considerably.

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