The Sins of the Mother
by Ellen Tipping
Xlibris AU

"Fiona didn’t fear death, what she feared was separation – being separated from the people she loved."

A coming-of-age story, albeit in retirement, this novel explores the loves and losses of Fiona’s life. In 102 pages, the book is divided into four parts with an epilogue. Part 1 begins with the death of her father, whereas Part 2 examines the three years prior to his funeral. Part 3 examines six months after the funeral, and Part 4 explores the three years after the funeral.

Fiona describes her story in a beautiful rendition of both first-person and second-person narratives. The funeral is attended by a man that is unknown to family and friends but looks a lot like her son. She initially decreases her work and eventually retires, which gives her more time, perhaps too much time, to examine her life choices. Her marriage to David and her relationship with her daughter are positive ones, but for some reason, her beloved son has distanced himself from her which causes significant distress. As she continues to write emails in her head to her son, we see a woman who is neurotically focused on her own process, her own struggles, and mortality. The use of song lyrics and her dreams aid in demonstrating her creativity in examining her life, which is valuable for the reader.

The author writes with intelligence and passion and demonstrates a depth of understanding of the human condition whether in joy and sorrow, health and illness, or struggles and acceptance. The book also nicely demonstrates the difficulty of being in the “sandwich generation” with issues affecting both parents and children. At times, it is not the easiest of reads, but it is a realistic look at life.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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