Shhhh-Don’t tell family secrets; – Don’t look too deeply into the abyss of your soul. by Catherine MacLeod. available on Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K.
A stitch in time does not save nine in this complex novel by Catherine MacLeod.
I will not cover the detail of the plot because J.D. Revene has done a fine job. To his point about Daisy’s needlework, which is the Gordian knot and namesake of the story,I think Daisy not only “stops herself from revealing her thoughts” but she also uses it as a means of control – the only control she has over her life. Everything and everyone she loves is fraying around her. Instead of cutting her wrists, she sews daisy chains across her smile, to hold her life together.
Daisy even severs herself from her birthname which is Deirdre. This kind of behavior is often exhibited by children abused, emotionally or physically, or raped. All of which makes this book sound sad and depressing. But it is not. The writing, as someone else has said, reveals the keen eye for detail of Catherine Macleod.
Her writing is musical (another motif expressed through Jake’s guitar), discordant at times, but always beautifully wrought. Again, to J.D. Revene’s point about Nottingham’s being described in less detail: perhaps the detail is reserved for the episodes in Daisy’s life most stressful to her-those she remembers in the most excruciating detail. And to the “missing years” while married to Jake, perhaps those years were relatively peaceful and less episodic, Daisy having temporarily found respite in the arms and normalcy of Jake and his family.
Daisy’s relationship with her daughter is most likely intentionally distant – it is very difficult for children like Daisy to raise a child without reverting to his or her parents’ patterns, and Daisy has life-altering secrets withheld from her on both sides of her family. “Ellen does not cut curves.” Ellen is Daisy’s mother – she is a woman of “sharp geometric shapes” and if a curve is required, she creates the illusion of a curve. This is the kind of writing I love. For me, this sums up Ellen quite well – gives me her essence.
“Why doesn’t Robin consult a doctor? You are his family, you should see to it that he does.” Robin is Daisy’s physician father, a man who self-medicates with whiskey and cannot heal himself. These are only two of the many complex characters, skillfully drawn. We also have Tom, Daisy’s brother; Pru, Robin’s companion in his later years; Roxy, one of the most interesting women in the story and her brother Plug; Joanna, Daisy’s school chum with whom she shares a deep friendship; Jake, her husband; Jake’s mother Rita, who becomes Daisy’s surrogate parent.
Friendship and love – both explored – not in the trite way we have come to expect, but intelligently and wisely. Last, the difference in cultural norms as they existed in the Scottish countryside versus those in urban England were of great interest to me. The more I write about this book, the more I realize I must read it again. And I hope you the peruser of Amazon reviews will read it many times too.