Scottish author PK Lynch has followed up an award-winning debut “Armadillos” (2016) with this thoughtful, family novel. It commences with the death of family lynchpin Peter Donnelly and the effects this has on those left behind.
Main character Sissy is 17 and adores her Dad. The suddenness of his demise has deprived her of the chance to say goodbye and her attempts to do this her own way are thwarted by her staunch Catholic grandmother, Anne. Sissy’s mother Jude is crumbling without her partner and the rest of the family seem not to know what to do about this.
The first half of this novel carefully and precisely examines the effects of bereavement on the family and it is grandmother Anne, befuddled by the death of the son she idolised, with her own secrets about her marriage and frustration at Jude’s inability to function as well as her need to control potentially wayward teenager Sissy, who comes across as the strongest drawn and most rounded character. The dynamics between the three are strong, felt authentic and kept me involved.
Circumstances take Sissy away from Glasgow and the novel shifts to become a young-girl-surviving-in- London tale which loses some of the depths of the novel as the characters here are not so well-drawn. Sissy, herself, is not terribly likeable and becomes less so once she moves down South. Anne and Jude take more of a back seat and this change of emphasis alters the balance of the novel from something potentially excellent to following along more predictable lines.
Those interested in novels which focus on family and friendship at times of duress would find much to become involved with but I felt a little disappointed that it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the opening chapters.
Wildest Of All was published in September 2017 by Legend Press. Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.