Elinor Florence, really pulled me in from the beginning. Published by Dundurn and released on 24th Feb, 2018 it's 328 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.
I review a lot more books in the mystery/crime and fantasy/SF genres than general narrative fiction (I am not taken with the label 'womens' fiction), so I had some trepidation about this book. I engaged with single mother Molly right from the start. Her desperation and stress over her situation were palpable. Suddenly unemployed without a safety net and with a dependent special needs 4 year old, she's mostly out of options when she gets the chance to upend and reboot her life completely. She and Bridget (her daughter) were so sympathetic and so well written that I connected with the story right away and found myself rooting for them unreservedly.
The sense of place is palpable in this book. In some ways, the setting is the main character because Molly spends so much of her time and herculean efforts reacting to and dealing with the brutal climate. Much of the dramatic tension in the book comes from the danger provided by environment in remotest Northern Canada.
I liked that there was a gentle byplay in the parallel story lines provided by alternating Molly's present with her aunt's journal entries from the past. The book felt really well researched and realistic. I also enjoyed the subplot elements around Wynona and by extension, her First Nation community.
I really appreciated the fact that Molly's evolution as a person and the unintended anxiety relief on her daughter's mental health was presented without being sappy, strident or preachy. Molly's anxiety and stress and its effect on Bridget were never overtly addressed and that finesse was a really nice touch.
I also liked the fact that the romance element took a backseat to Molly's growth as a person. Some elements are foreshadowed heavily but they didn't detract or overshadow.
In more general comments, the language is very clean and there's nothing to offend. (There is one 'shite' in the book, but it's not gratuitous). This would make a really great book club selection or classroom read for older students. In fact there are discussion questions included at the end of the book.
Trigger warning: Self harm
Lovely book, well written. It's a standalone.
Four and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.