Book within a book examines a family’s violent past

Turn Us Again
by Charlotte R. Mendel
$20.95, paperback, 336 pp.
Roseway Publishing, October 2013
Reviewed from an advance reading copy

Turn Us Again Charlotte R. MendelIn her debut novel, Charlotte R. Mendel examines the trauma of domestic violence and its inescapable hold on a family.

Gabriel Golden is summoned from Nova Scotia to England by his estranged, alcoholic father, Sam, who is dying of cancer. Sam promptly hands Gabriel a memoir written by his deceased mother, Anne. Through this book within a book, readers receive a rich, compelling portrait of a naive but self-assured woman, more complex than her frivolous behaviour suggests, as she struggles to survive within a violent marriage.

Through Anne (or Madelyn as she is renamed by Sam), Gabriel is forced to examine his relationship with his father and his own proclivity toward violence. However, as the novel shifts back and forth between the two stories, Anne’s memoir loses some of its power. A straightforward chronology might have better suited such a complex narrative. Nonetheless, by giving all three family members a voice, Mendel gives depth to a difficult subject.

Turn Us Again
by Charlotte R. Mendel
$20.95, paperback, 336 pp.
Roseway Publishing, October 2013
Reviewed from an advance reading copy

 

Written By

Sue Carter Flinn is the editor of Quill & Quire, the arts and ideas editor at This Magazine, and books columnist Metro Canada Picks.

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