Saturday, 29 August 2015

Waltzing Through Flaws - Paula Sharp

If you enjoy North American fiction, that isn't about murder or mayhem, but gives you a window onto a parallel world similar, but not the same as Europe, you are like me.  And this book is a glimpse through that window and into the world of the late 1970s, when the  pro-lifers were just beginning to campaign.  I certainly knew nothing about that subject then, although I know a lot more now. So this will give you an idea of how that whole thing took off, and how some people got more tied up in it than perhaps was good for them.

Penny, whose life as an eight/nine year old is described here, has an older fourteen year old sister Mahalia.  Mahalia has met and become enthralled by, a pro-lifer called Isabel, well known in their small town as a church woman who can be relied on to look after children if babysitters are scarce; a woman who always attempts to do the Christian thing and take food to people who are without; who will always tell unmarried mothers to be that abortion is not the only way out.  Heart of gold?  Mmmm - I found her very spooky,  personally, and whilst Mahalia was quickly enthralled, Penny's views were rather like mine.  But she was just someone on the edge of their lives until that Summer when the girls' mother had to admit that she was an alcoholic, and her fiance (she was widowed) and brother were going to take her off for a few weeks to dry out.

Marguerite, the girls' mother, asks Isobel if she will move in whilst the adults are away and take care of the girls.  She agrees, and in a short time Penny's life has changed.  Her sister accompanies Isobel on visits to poor families, she helps distribute anti-abortion literature, and she begins to act like Isobel.  Meanwhile, Penny finds that her mother has been writing regularly, but the letters are withheld as the contents are "not suitable" for the children.

Enough of the story.  Paula Sharp?  Who is she?  What a find!  I had never heard of her before acquiring this excellent read, but would certainly read more if they came across my radar.  She tells a child's story, but not in a childish way, although one that most would recognise.  The book is divided into three sections, each headed by the name of one of the lead characters.  Those sections are divided into chapters and I had no trouble in knowing where I was.  It was a page turner in the way that thrillers are.  A sense of doom lurked somewhere just over the next page, and every time the chattering womens' church group got together, I had to grit my teeth!

A good read.  Worth finding.