Come Sunday: A Novel

By Isla Morley
Publisher:Picador, (8/3/2010)

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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Abbe is a restless young mother living on the outskirts of Honolulu with her husband, Greg, the pastor at a small church. Their lives are suddenly riven by tragedy when their three-year-old daughter, Cleo, is struck and killed by car. As Greg turns to God and community for comfort, Abbe turns inward and reflects upon her own troubled past.  Isla Morley brilliantly weaves the story of Abbe’s grief with a gripping tale of her tempestuous childhood in apartheid South Africa---and how Abbe’s father, a villainous drunk, held her family hostage for decades with his rage, until they finally began to plot their escape from him. Come Sunday is a spellbinding drama about a woman breaking free of her grief and of her past, and what it takes to revive hope when all seems lost. 

"South African-born Morley's confident debut explores the intense grief that follows a child's accidental death. Honolulu and Africa are the settings for this absorbing if at times overemphatic novel. The sudden loss of their beloved three-year-old daughter Cleo in a car accident puts a severe strain on Abbe Deighton's relationship with her husband Greg, a minister. Their marriage was already showing symptoms of stress, such as Abbe's flirtation with a colleague, but the couple's divergent methods of dealing with the pain and despair arising from their loss drive a deeper wedge between them. Abbe is prickly and more confrontational than Greg. During her childhood in South Africa, she watched her vicious, racist father terrorize and threaten her long-suffering mother, who prayed for release and eventually poisoned him. Now, Abbe needs to assign blame and can't accept Greg's desire to understand and forgive. A year after Cleo's death, Greg can take no more and leaves Abbe, who then finds herself forced to return to South Africa to sell the family farm. Events there take an implausible and eventually sentimental turn. Moments of drama, violence and self-sacrifice eventually contribute to Abbe's rediscovery of hope and generosity. Intense, unsparing, dark and often downbeat, but distinguished by an impassioned, poetic voice."—Kirkus Reviews

"Each person's grief is unique and, as with an accident along the side of the road, everyone slows down to witness another's suffering, thinking, 'That could easily have been me.' Clearly, there is a market for books that provide this sense of vicarious suffering and ultimately empowering self-discovery, and this debut novel about grief and repurposing one's life after tremendous loss fits the mold. It begins with a sense of foreboding and a dark secret tied to the protagonist's family farm in South Africa (where the author was born). Abbe Deighton has since fled her homeland and now lives with her husband and young daughter in Hawaii. She chafes in her role as minister's wife and suburban mother and is unhappy without really being able to pin down why. When her daughter's accidental death tears her life apart, Abbe must return to South Africa in order to discover the truth about her own mother and to begin healing. The character development in this novel is quite engaging, but ultimately the plot is somewhat predictable. Recommended."—Gwen Vredevoogd, Library Journal

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Alice_Wonder's thoughts on "Come Sunday: A Novel"
updated on:9/17/2010


"Come Sunday: A Novel"
By Isla Morley

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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