3 September 2012

eBook Review: The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall

"Three women in love with the same man meet for the first time at his funeral. Can they separate the truth from the lies – and learn to trust again?

When world famous music conductor Leo Bruck dies suddenly, he leaves behind three grieving women and a mass of unanswered questions.

Did the man who juggled these simultaneous relationships while thrilling audiences around the globe, direct The Darling Girls like an orchestra?"

Rating: 5/5

For some reason, I've not really been able to getting into reading books on my Kindle, I just prefer books that I can hold, I'm a bit old-fashioned like that! However, when I went on holiday a few weeks ago, I couldn't fit any of my books in my suitcase so I decided to take my Kindle with me and see if any of the books on there would tickle my fancy. Out in Majorca, I realised I had the new eBook from author Emma Burstall to read, and decided to give it a go as I had enjoyed her previous novels. I quickly found myself getting to it, and was gutted when my Kindle died a day before my holiday ended, so as soon as I got back, I found my charger and devoured the rest of the book, it was so good!

Leo Bruck was a famous music conductor until his sudden death at a performance, but Leo has left behind a trail of destruction that seems set to destroy the lives of those he held dearest to him. Leo's long-term partner Victoria, mother of his two children Ralph and Salome isn't naive and knows of Leo's past indiscretions throughout their relationship, but is devastated to find out how dearly he cared for his other women. She, in particular, hates Maddy, mother of Leo's other illegitimate child Phoebe, the woman she feels set out to take Leo from her. However, when young Cat, the complete antithesis of both Victoria and Maddy comes along, the two older women are surprised at who else Leo has fallen for. But Cat is devastated by the death of her lover, and is struggling to move on with her life. How will Leo's 'darling girls' ever get past his death, and will he play as well in death as he did in life?

Everything about this book was brilliant. Burstall has created a small yet powerful cast of characters which hook you in right from the beginning of the book, and have you wondering how things are going to end up for throughout the book, as there's no obvious happy ending for any of them! I have to say Cat was my favourite character, a troubled young woman struggling with issues with her father, and her mother's rapid decline, as well as the death of Leo. She was likeable because she was very realistic in her feelings and actions, and I could understand her reluctance in moving on romantically, and her struggle to find out who she really is. Her relationship with Victoria in particular was really interesting to me, and I found that Burstall really hit the nail on the head when she wrote those two characters, it was perfectly done.

Victoria and Maddy, Leo's other women are both just as devastated, Victoria most of all as she finds out more shocking secrets about the love of her life after his sudden death. Burstall writes Victoria's desperation and sorrow with ease, using Victoria's job as a counsellor to help her along the way. I love how Burstall wove in Victoria's love of cello playing throughout the novel, and how she used music to soothe, mentioning several classical pieces along the way, always with reference to Leo. Considering we never actually meet Leo in the book, he is so well created by Burstall that we feel we know him, and I disliked him very much for what he did, despite the excuses his lovers made for him. His back story, however, was an emotional one and I applaud Burstall for going for something completely different in this book, it was quite moving to read.

This eBook took me completely by surprise, and I'm thinking it's going to go on my list of top ten reads of 2012 with ease. Burstall creates a world for these characters that you can get lost in, and by following Victoria, Maddy and Cat in the year after Leo's death, we get to see the ups and downs of these womens lives, and experience their feelings along with them. Nothing is obvious in the book, I really couldn't see how it could all end nicely for them, and Burstall manages the story perfectly, keeping some of Leo's secrets back from us until we simply have to know what has been revealed, and we end up sympathising with each of the wronged women in different ways even though we know what Maddy and Cat was doing was wrong. It's an emotional and gripping read, and one I hope gets Burstall the coverage and recognition she fully deserves. Brilliant.

You can buy The Darling Girls as an eBook now!

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