Review published on July 30, 2017.
Before You Were Mine takes us to Alabama where we meet Eli Bell. Now 46, her daughter was wrenched away from her shortly after birth 32 years earlier and Eli has longed for her ever since.
I thought that longing really came through in the narrative. Eli is quite worn down by a horrible mother and a so-called friend who is nothing of the sort, but she just takes it on the chin and carries on regardless. You can tell that she’s already been dealt the worst blow of her life in losing her daughter.
It’s hard to imagine the hell of going through pregnancy and childbirth and in effect having nothing at the end of it. But it’s not hard to imagine seeing that child’s face everywhere, in people you pass in the street, people you see on the television. That’s what happens to Eli and she latches onto a young woman that she meets who she is convinced is her daughter.
I liked Eli a lot. Long-suffering daughter, loyal wife to steady Tommy, but a mother to nobody. It’s quite a heartbreaking story in many ways but I did find that this book didn’t quite hit the emotional spot for me. I would have expected to be a lot more moved by the story and the characters, but I wasn’t and I’m not entirely sure why.
It’s a good debut novel though. The characterisations are strong, the setting is easy to imagine and the storyline overall is convincing. It’s quite an evocative book with a sad story at its heart. I shall look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next.
Nicola Smith 4/4
Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin
HQ Digital e-book May 2017