Culture Street

Books

The Stopped Heart by Julie Myerson

On February 18, 2016

By Sophia Whitfield
Julie Myerson’s latest book is a powerful tale of grief, loss and terror. She intertwines two narratives, set 100 years apart in the same location.

Mary is in her early 40s when she moves to rural Suffolk with her husband Graham to escape the horror of her daughter’s death. Slowly Myerson unravels Mary’s story; the loss of her daughters, the guilt she feels and the fractured life she now leads. Cut off from her former life, their new rural home seems the perfect place for Mary to grieve away from prying eyes.

Myerson expertly handles the trauma of loss with flashbacks to the disappearance of Mary’s daughters. The police investigation into their disappearance is told in snippets as Mary remembers brief conversations between police officers. The description of her daughter’s teacher turning up at her door with bags full of Ella and Flo’s craft and artwork is heartbreaking.

100 years earlier the idyllic cottage was home to a large family. Eliza, one of the daughters, narrates her story. When her parents take in a red-haired stranger things begin to change. He shows no intention of leaving, helping out on the farm, but strange incidents begin to occur unsettling the family.

As Mary settles into her new home she begins to see things that unravel her, things that perhaps indicate the history of the house. Uncertain of what is real and what is not, she begins to doubt her own sanity.

Myerson explores the past and whether or not it should be unearthed. It is a book full of ghosts and unspeakable crimes. But it is Myerson’s grip on the terribleness of Mary’s grief that is so powerfully captured. You will be racing to the final page, desperate to discover a resolution for Mary.

Buy the book here.

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