After Helen.

Author:Schingler, Michelle Anne
Position:Book review

Paul Cavanagh; AFTER HELEN; Not That London Publisher (Fiction: General) 15.95 ISBN: 9780993809309

Byline: Michelle Anne Schingler

Romance gives way to reality, and vivacity to human fragility in this novel about rebuilding a family after a loss.

The novel that won Paul Cavanagh the spot as the first-ever Lit Idol hits the international stage. After Helen is a nuanced exploration of what it means to mourn those we love most, all their flaws considered.

It's been around a year since Irving lost his beautiful and intriguing wife, Helen, to cancer. In the interim, he and his daughter, Severn, have struggled to revive their relationship. Severn acts out in ways that pique his worry, spending copious amounts of time with a puppy-dog teenage boy and getting caught shoplifting at a bookstore with embarrassing family ties. When she fails to return home one night, Irving is forced to set out to retrieve her, with Marla, a more centered fellow parent, guiding his endeavors.

As their trek progresses, Irving reminisces on his time with Helen, whose tempestuous past may hold the key to unlocking Severn's distress. The woman he recalls is held apart as beloved, but she's also shown to be, at times, selfish, uncommunicative, and even cruel...

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