Published by Head of Zeus
Publication date – 15 September 2022
Source – review copy
Molly Black has disappeared. She’s been flighty since her parents died, but this time – or so says her hastily written note – she’s gone for good.
That’s why the whole Black clan – from Granny perched on the printer to Killian on Zoom from Sydney – is huddled together in the Dublin suburbs, arguing over what to do.
Former model Lady V presumes Molly’s just off taking drugs and sleeping with strangers – which is fine by her. Cousin Anne, tired of living in Molly’s shadow, is keeping quiet, and cousin Bobby is distracted by his own issues.
But Molly’s disappearance is eerily familiar to Uncle John. He is determined never to lose anyone again. Especially not his niece, who is more like her mum than she realises.
Molly Black has disappeared. Again. The Black family have been focussed on retrieving Molly from her various adventures over the years and know she will turn up again soon. No one is worried. Except Uncle John. Since Molly’s parents died he has
The whole family is made up of such diverse characters, each with their own issues, yet the group feel like a cohesive collection of people who love each other because they want to, not because they have to. They have unconsciously and often very obviously, looked out for each other and for Molly on more than one occasion.
Molly’s disappearance causes introspection for many of them, leading them to re-evaluate their lives. Lady V, always distant, realises she has been holding herself at a distance. A change of circumstances makes her reassess who she is. Molly’s cousins Bobby and Anne also have moments of self reflection. Bobby has a career he loves but his personal life is stuck. He is haunted by a past trauma which he has never come to terms with. As he looks for Molly he also looks at himself and begins to realise there may be a little hope. Anne has always been under Molly’s shadow. Whilst she is distracted with Molly’s disappearance, she lets her guard down and realises keeping herself enclosed may have kept her safe but it kept her from living. Uncle Danny has been lost to the family for years. An alcoholic, he finds himself as he helps to find Molly.
None of the family have really dealt with their own grief at the deaths of Molly’s parents. Bernard Black loved his wife and daughter and died suddenly. A few years later, the inimitable force of nature Annabelle is killed in a car crash. She was a whirlwind that had a remarkable effect on many of the Black family. They were too focussed on helping Molly that many of them have filed away their own loss. Molly’s disappearance brings that loss to the surface.
Annabelle was many things to many people. As each of the family take a look at how she impacted them, the reader gains a full insight into a warm, loving character they never actually meet.
The skill here is with the juxtaposition of grief and humour. There are some genuinely funny moments interspersed with gentler humour. There is always a chance that when humour and loss are written together one could outweigh the other, and detract from both. That is not the case here. The humour highlights the wonderful everydayness of the family and the grief shows not only their love for each other but how the loss of those closest to them have affected their lives. There is also a darker storyline involving a missing woman which adds another layer to the story.
A fun, entertaining read about a functionally dysfunctional, and loving family, and how grief can hit us at any time.