Saturday 8 September 2018

BLOG TOUR: A Perfect Mother - Katri Skala

During a visit to Trieste in Northern Italy to research his long lost great-grandfather, Jacob meets Charlotte and Jane, and the three are forced to confront their individual and shared histories. Their sense of themselves is challenged and they must piece together a future none of them saw coming. 

A Perfect Mother asks big questions: What do we inherit from the broken histories of our parents and our grandparents and how does this shape our own sense of identity? Can we ever escape the past? Are stories, the ones we are told and the ones we tell, integral to how we know each other and how we love? What does it mean to be a good parent, let alone the perfect mother? 

A bracing, hypnotic story of mid-life crisis about the complexities of love, relationship and legacy.

What did I think?

I thought that A Perfect Mother was going to be quite heavy going, but I was pleasantly surprised as it is perfectly paced with interesting characters and an intriguing storyline.  It definitely has the feel of a modern classic and Katri Skala has created such depth of character that made me really care about Charlotte, Jane and Jacob.

It feels very much like a slow-burner with Jacob bumping into Jane and then meeting Charlotte in his quest to interrogate his family tree, but the tangled web that Jacob weaves really picks up the pace of the story.  What I thought was going to be an intriguing glimpse into Jacob's family's wartime past became an even more intriguing examination of a fated relationship and the secrets that sculpted it.

To be honest, I didn't really warm to Jacob; he seems to be floating through life, leaving his family behind as he researches his book.  His research brings him to Trieste in Northern Italy where he meets Jane; now Jane may be married, but not happily, which makes her very honourably put the brakes on anything that may have happened between her and Jacob.  Jane is such a complex character who has such strength in her convictions that I would welcome her being on my side in an argument.  Jane's friend, Charlotte, conversely, is like a fragile butterfly who Jacob somehow seems to ensnare in his net.  I never really feared that Jacob would hurt Charlotte, as he always came across as so indifferent and I could never really tell what he was feeling.  I always had the feeling that that someone was about to get hurt, though...but who?

For me, the story was all about Charlotte and Jane: they met under such difficult circumstances that forged an unbreakable friendship.  Jane was kind of like a mother figure to Charlotte so I thought she was the perfect mother in the story until Charlotte proves how far she is willing to go to protect her child.  Such is the depth of emotion in the story, that I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

A Perfect Mother certainly tugged at my heartstrings as it both shocked and surprised me.  I really felt as if I had read a proper grown up novel, such is the standard of Katri Skala's writing.  I have to say that I am completely astounded that this is the author's first novel; there is not a single word out of place and it certainly has the feel of a literary classic.  If you're looking for something a little deeper and yet slightly dark, look no further than A Perfect Mother.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it direct from Hikari Press

About the author:
Born in France of an American mother and a Viennese father, Katri Skala has lived in the United States and across Europe. 

She has worked as a senior arts administrator, script editor, and literary editor in the field of new writing in Britain and the US for a range of organisations that include Channel Four, BBC, the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Arvon Foundation, the University of East Anglia, and the Writers Centre Norwich. 

She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in literature and journalism from Vassar (in the US), Cardiff and the University of East Anglia. 

She has had published short stories and magazine features. A Perfect Mother is her first novel. An extract was recently published in INK Anthology, a showcase of new writing produced for agents and publishers. 

She works as a mentor to writers in all genres and at all stages of their writing life.

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