Thursday, 23 May 2019

#BlogTour The Den by Abi Maxwell

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Den by Abi Maxwell. It's historical fiction, and it is also women's fiction.
About the Author
Abi Maxwell is the author of an acclaimed story collection, Lake People, and her fiction has also appeared in McSweeney’s. She studied writing at the University of Montana and now lives in New Hampshire, where she grew up, with her husband and son.

Buy The Den
About the book
A hypnotic story of youth, sex and power.
A story of two women cast out by the same community though separated by a hundred years. A story of two extraordinary, magnetic women and their disappearances - a hundred years apart - from
the small New England town they call home.

Henrietta and Jane are growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town, their mother a remote artist, their father in thrall to the folklore and legend of their corner of New England. When Henrietta falls under the spell of Kaus, an outsider and petty criminal, Jane takes to trailing the couple, spying on their trysts, until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods.

Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean. Elspeth’s pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent away from her Scottish village to make a new life in America. When she comes to the attention of the local mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfolds, culminating in her disappearance.

As Jane and Claire search in their own times for their missing sisters, each uncovers the strange legend of Cold Thursday, and of a family apparently transformed into coyotes. But what does his myth really mean?

Are their sisters dead, destroyed by the men who desired them? Or have they made new lives, elsewhere, beyond the watchful eyes of the community they longed to escape?

At the beginning of the book and during the first few chapters the story of Henrietta is narrated by her younger sister Jane. I must admit it was a great intro and paved the way for the rest of the story.

She paints a picture of her older sister Henrietta, the Lolita.The precocious teenager who is discovering her power over both boys and men. Henrietta treats her sister with disdain, well actually everyone, with that special brand of teenage disdain.

Although the women have a lot in common there are certain differences. Henrietta's story is a coming-of-age one, whereas when the reader meets Elspeth she has already overcome those stages in her life. The two of them share the fact they were both pregnant as teenagers. Elspeth is sent overseas under a cloud of scandal and Henrietta just disappears one day.

In a way it is an example of the time periods that lay between them. How the woman in the 1850s has less choice and more obstacles in her way than the teenager in the more modern era. On the other side of the lives of these women are the sisters. Jane and Claire, who have been left behind by Elspeth and Henrietta.

Whilst the reader learns what the disappearance means to the sister left holding up the rest of the family and the impact it has on those left behind, they are also eager for Henrietta and Elspeth to be safe and independent.

It's historical fiction, and it is also women's fiction. A story that speaks of oppression, rape, manipulation and also of strength, perseverance and a strong will to survive. At the same time it also takes a look at the often complex relationships between sisters. How discord and disagreements doesn't negate the bond between them. Women are the glue that keeps families together, and yet they are also the weapon that has the capability to destroy them.

I really enjoyed the read. I especially enjoyed the voice of Jane and the relationship between her and Henrietta. It was realistic in its assessment of the complexity that exists between two women bound by blood.

Buy The Den at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Tinder Press Hardback; pub date 16th May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

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