Ebook review: The Wronged Sons by John Marrs

Another grey Monday turns up and the rain drizzles down on a sullen Copenhagen. So on with the artificial lights as I look out on the miserable cyclists still on their way to the office of their work. The sudden burst of near poetic feeling has been caused by the Ebook that I will review today. For various reasons it put me in mind of my youth when I spent nearly two years preparing for an English Literature exam and one of the three books we toiled on was Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge”, we spent endless hours poring over this booking and dissecting its mysteries. Much of the time we focused on how this novel is useful in the argument “character is fate”. Arguably this is a classic and often considered Hardy’s greatest work, but as a youth I absolutely detested it. How could a fourteen year old living in modern England have the slightest connection to the challenges of living in rustic Dorset? Perhaps others could, but I could not. What is furmity anyway, and could someone really decide to sell off their wife and daughter? Seemingly endless hours were spent fumbling at this book with the as yet unmade tools of youth and there was nothing to relate to. All that is left from those hours are the feeling of profound irritation towards being told what to read, a decent grade and the knowledge that choices lead to consequences, in this case my choice to keep nurdling away at this book led to the consequence that the grade was good, and my desire to read another Hardy novel is practically zero.

From the dust cover: “What would you do if the person you loved suddenly vanished into thin air?
Catherine’s cosy life as a housewife and mum-of-three is quickly thrown into disarray when husband Simon disappears without explanation. She is convinced he hasn’t left by choice as confusion and spiralling debts threaten to tear her family apart.
Meanwhile Simon has begun a carefree new life travelling the world. And he’s determined not to disclose his past to all he meets, even if it means resorting to extreme and violent measures.
But why did he leave?
Catherine only gets her answer 25 years later when Simon suddenly reappears on her doorstep.
During their furious final confrontation, they discover the secrets, lies and misunderstandings that tore them apart, then brought them face-to-face one last time.

My Ebook review: the setting of this story just a couple of decades ago makes it immediately possible to connect with.
The ebook starts out with Simon’s choice. From there come passages from the past and from the present played out both as narration and as conversation between the estranged husband and wife. What becomes clear quite early on is that there is a lot that is not clear at first site. Over the chapters the truth is revealed in a subtle, nicely paced, fundamentally disturbing manner.
The Wronged Sons is an emotional journey of painful recollections, impossibly bad choices. As the history is opened up to the reader it is quite possible to consider that Simon is a complete arse. This conclusion is not necessarily formed because of his choices but because of his self serving rationalisation of the choices that he has made. Somehow this man has defined to himself that any action that can be justified to himself must be appropriate. He cannot act in any other way because that is who he thinks he is. He is unable to consider the option that he could have made other choices; he has not moved away from the comfort blanket of the failings of his own parents, a comfort blanket that he uses as his own deflector shield when fault approaches.
Interestingly the book does not just rely on the failings of one character. The common theme of unnecessary secrets and half truths plagues the lives of much of the cast. Some face their demons and rise above, others are not so lucky.
Marrs has written a magnificent story, one that truly captivated from the start with its style and grace and the ever so subtle disclosure of the ultimate history. As the journey continues, the author is able to shape our opinions of the characters from an almost sympathetic curiosity towards a sense of repulsion and that, perhaps, is the greatest triumph of this work.


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