oh Dear Silvia – Dawn French

Ed is still trying to come to terms with the end of his marriage. He even considers ending it all, but something stops him. He finally finds peace in a place of trees, nature and stillness. A place where people go to hide.

Cassie is coming to terms with her mother rejecting her when she announces she is pregnant at 16 and wants to keep the baby. Cassie wants to just be loved by her own mother when she is about to become one herself.

Jamie is in Afghanistan. He joined the army to escape his family.

Jo is the eldest sister, and promised her mother when she died that she would look after her youngest sister. Even now she is 63, she is still looking after sister and using any unconventional methods to do so.

Tia, is an employee, and to supplement her income, she also helps herself to her employers, surplus stuff. She figures that she will not be needing it any more.

Cat is upset her lover still holds on to her past. She wants her to make a choice and the choice they make together means that the present has to go into the past. 

Winnie is trying to be the best mother to her son and the best nurse for her patients, she knows that they cannot help their state, and wants to make it as easy as possible for the relatives as well as the patients.

Ed’s ex wife is called Silvia.
Cassie and Jamie’s mother is called Silvia.
Jo’s youngest sister is called Silvia.
Tia’s employer is called Silvia.
Cat’s lover is called Silvia.
Winnie’s patient is called Silvia.

And Silvia is in suite number 5 and cannot deal with the issues these people bring to her bedside. She is in a coma and cannot answer them.

This is a rather clever way of telling a story and to begin with I struggled to try and get into the characters but as you progress with the book, it gets more involved and you begin to see the real truth of these people all connected to the one persons voice you never hear – Silvia. The twist was something that I was not expecting and it made me question exactly where you would place this novel genre wise. It made it a very different read and different to Dawn French’s debut novel.

Two observations, which spoilt the book for me was something others have commented on; the letter that Jamie sends his mother – it was a very good written letter but it’s place was not in this book. It looked like the author had written this and wanted to use it come what may. The second was the voice of Winnie which was written in dialect and I admit to skim reading these parts because I could not understand it. I got the gist but it did spoil it somewhat, especially as Winnie was a lovely character and somehow managed to be both strong for everyone whilst she feels weak in her own personal life.

An interesting concept, that worked but not on every page. Worth a read.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

I did not know what I was expecting when I read Dawn French’s debut novel which was a unique and very good book. Pressure on for the next book I suppose and perhaps that’s why there were some weaker moments in it for me.

I was disappointed with the dialogue of Winnie and I was not sure why I could not get into her voice. Other books I have read, for example The Help did not cause me a problem, I got into it very quickly. This I could not, perhaps if I heard these chapters spoken I may think differently but it let the book down for me.

I look forward to seeing what she might write next though as it is apparent she has not chosen a genre to slot straight into which is great for readers but not for all those folk who like to pigeonhole books!