Rosie Thomas brings forward an interesting novel of the complexities of family and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love. Sadie’s life is calm and complete. She is a mother, a good friend, and the robust survivor of a marriage she deliberately left behind. She has come to believe that she has everything she wants and deserves. But now her father is dying—the elusive man who spent his life creating exquisite perfumes for other women is slipping away from her, and Sadie must try to make her peace with him before it’s too late.

As Sadie confronts the truth about her father, who often ignored her as he pursued his separate life, her relationship with her son Jack also appears to be breaking down. Intent on salvaging her relationships with both son and father, her seemingly perfect life unravels from both ends. Then the arrival of an ephemeral woman from her father’s past sets off a chain reaction of events that even Sadie cannot control.

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This book was exactly what I expected it to be. A melancholic look on one’s relationship with their important parent. For boys, it’s their mothers. For girl’s, it’s their fathers and as Freud used to say – you end up reliving your most important relationships from your past well into your adult life.(he also said that you want to marry / have sex with people that look like your parents)

When her mom passed away due to a cerebral haemorrhage, she was left with her distant father.

“After her death, instead of being comfortingly present, Ted became less and less accessible. From a mature viewpoint, I could excuse his absence as to do with his own grieving, but as a child I took it personally. I began to fear that he would disappear as abruptly as Faye had done, so I clung about him, watching him for signs of fatal illness, checking that he wasn’t preparing to go out and leave me.

The chapters are well written, her past life and her current life mirroring each other. She is trying to get through to her son, Jake, but the distance she felt when growing up is the same as her son’s. I would say he suffers from attachment disorders and is acting out as he can’t find a parent that cares for him as he wants to.

In an interview at the book’s end, Rosie Thomas confesses that most of her inner thoughts and early life are present in this book.

“The loss of a parent in early life creates all kinds of uncertainties in a child and leaves unanswerable questions about what might have been. In adult life it affects your relationships with your own children and with your partner. My awareness of all this strengthens as I get older and the recent loss of my father triggered all kinds of other memories.”

Goodish book – 2/5 (Charity Pile)

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