It’s just over two years since Moira Forsyth appeared on Linda’s Book Bag with a smashing guest post linked to her book A Message From The Other Side. You can read that post here alongside my review. Today I’m delighted finally to have a review of another of Moira’s books, Tell Me Where You Are and would like to thank Sandstone Press for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest opinion.
Published by Sandstone Press in paperback on 16th May 2019, Tell Me Where You Are is available for purchase through the links here.
Tell Me Where You Are
Maybe the worst thing hadn’t happened yet. You couldn’t know the awful things lined up in the future, looming.
The last thing Frances wants is a phone call from Alec, the husband who left her for her sister thirteen years ago. But Susan has disappeared, abandoning Alec and her daughter Kate, a surly teenager with an explosive secret. Reluctantly, Frances is drawn into her sister’s turbulent life.
My Review of Tell Me Where You Are
Frances has no contact with her ex-husband, Alec, after he left her for her sister Susan, but that is about to change.
I think if readers are looking for a visceral thriller with several twists and turns Tell Me Where You isn’t the book for them. However, I found Tell Me Where You an intimate and sensitive portrait of family life, sibling rivalries and our desperate need to be loved and to belong and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I thought the title was inspired because although ostensibly it refers to Susan throughout, who is missing, many of the characters are looking for happiness, their own identity, a relationship and so on, giving Tell Me Where You are multiple meanings. I don’t wish to sound patronising, but I do believe readers need a level of maturity (which isn’t necessarily linked with age) fully to appreciate the nuances of family dynamics explored by Moira Forsyth. I thought her perception and presentation was spot on.
Reading Tell Me Where You Are felt a bit like viewing a kaleidoscope because the different characters’ perceptions acted as refracted light, and the patterns and dynamics within Frances’s family shifted and changed like the pieces of a kaleidoscope so that I understood the balance within the family perfectly. I felt Moira Forsyth had observed the people in her narrative every bit as closely and effectively as does Austen in Mansfield Park for example. There’s bigotry, disappointment, resignation, stoicism, jealousy, love and so many other emotions that bubble and surface, subside and simmer, that add depth and interest to this family story.
There’s considerable care and thought that has gone into the creation of character by the author. I loathed Alec. He made my skin crawl and had I been Frances I think his treatment might have been very different! Frances is a real Everywoman. She tries to manage the demands of being both mother and daughter, sister and individual in a way so many readers will relate to. Even though I have never been a mother, I was able to comprehend her perspective completely because of the successful way she is drawn by Moira Forsyth. Susan, on the other hand, brought out the very worst in me. Whilst she has mental health issues to which I felt I should be sympathetic, I also found her behaviour selfish and hurtful at the best of times so she didn’t gain my empathy and this made me uncomfortable. It doesn’t sit well with me not to have sympathy for those with mental health issues and Moira Forsyth has got under my skin and made me doubt myself. This is such clever writing. I found Tell Me Where You Are both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Tell Me Where You Are is a book that somehow seems to be more than the sum of its parts. It is insightful, providing so much for the reader to consider. Moira Forsyth doesn’t provide all the answers by the end of the narrative and I liked the story all the better for that because life isn’t always neatly resolved and packaged to our satisfaction. I’ve finished Tell Me Where You Are with a feeling that these characters live on outside the book as real people. I rather hope I’ll meet them again some day.
About Moira Forsyth
Moira Forsyth is the author of five novels, and a published poet and short story writer. She has been a registrar of births, deaths and marriages, sold hotels and catering properties, been a bookshop manager, a lecturer and schoolteacher, and taught in a Young Offenders’ Institution. Moira is now an editor, and has worked on a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. Moira has two grown-up children (non-resident), two cats (resident), and lives in the Highlands of Scotland.
You can follow Moira on Twitter @moira_forsyth.