The Unravelling of Maria by F J Curlew

My enormous thanks to F J Curlew for inviting me to participate in her blog tour for The Unravelling Of Maria and for sending me an ecopy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Unravelling Of Maria is available for purchase here.

The Unravelling Of Maria

Lovers separated by the Iron Curtain.

Two women whose paths should never have crossed.

A remarkable journey that changes all of their lives.

Maria’s history is a lie. Washed up on the shores of Sweden in 1944, with no memory, she was forced to create her own. Nearly half a century later she still has no idea of her true identity.

Jaak fights for Estonia’s independence, refusing to accept the death of his fiancée Maarja, whose ship was sunk as she fled across the Baltic Sea to escape the Soviet invasion.

Angie knows exactly who she is. A drug addict. A waste of space. Life is just about getting by.

A chance meeting in Edinburgh’s Cancer Centre is the catalyst for something very different.

Sometimes all you need is someone who listens.

My Review of The Unravelling Of Maria

Maria’s life is about to change.

Given that I usually don’t enjoy stories with multiple perspectives and different time frames I think it speaks volumes for F J Curlew’s The Unravelling of Maria that I loved this book because the beautiful quality of the writing drew me in and held my attention completely. By the end of the book I had been so captivated by the stories of Maria, Angie and Jaak that I was extremely moved.

Those different timeframes and perspectives are elegantly wrought into a beautiful narrative that is part history, part love story, part tale of endurance and suffering and part love letter to Estonia. There’s such a poetic beauty to F J Curlew’s descriptions, even when she is uncovering the less glamorous side to Edinburgh or conflict, that never becomes hyperbole, but rather touches each of the reader’s senses and immerses them in the settings and story. I was incredibly impressed. The Unravelling of Maria also made me feel quite ignorant. Shamefully, I had no real concept of Estonia’s history and in reading The Unravelling of Maria I feel I have been cleverly educated as well as entertained.

The plot is perfectly balanced because The Unravelling of Maria illustrates horror and joy, love and hate, inhumanity and compassion with such finesse that it feels as if the reader is living the lives of the three main characters with them. The structure has an almost Shakespearean quality to it, as if the book is in acts. I found the tension in the narrative almost too great to bear at times, but Angie’s dialect and accent serves as light relief so that I thoroughly enjoyed every word. Indeed, I usually find accents contrived but Angie’s Scottish brogue is perfectly accessible whilst adding depth and colour to her character.

All three main characters are so, so real. They have depth and flaws that bring them alive. My heart went out to Angie who illustrates perfectly how sometimes, all we need is a chance. Jaak had my empathy and my sympathy but it was Maria’s story that touched me most. Her resilience, her bravery and her search for identity both literally and metaphorically is presented by F J Curlew with real humanity.

I hadn’t really thought much about The Unravelling of Maria before I began reading, so I didn’t really have any expectations. However, I found a meticulously researched, beautifully written saga of identity, people and love in many forms. I really recommend it.

About F J Curlew

Fiona worked as an international school teacher for fifteen years, predominantly in Eastern Europe. Seven of those years were spent in Estonia – a little country she fell in love with. She now lives in East Lothian, Scotland, where her days are spent walking her dog, Brockie the Springer, and writing.

The Unravelling Of Maria is her fourth novel.

For further information, follow Fiona on Twitter @FJCurlew or visit her website.

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2 thoughts on “The Unravelling of Maria by F J Curlew

  1. I just can’t thank you enough for this, Linda. For taking a chance on a wee indie author. For coming on board the blog tour despite your hectic schedule. But mostly for writing such an incredible review. Words like blown away are bandied about with little meaning behind them, but I am truly, utterly, blown away. Thank you so very much! x


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