Fable spent her early years living happily with her mother Jasmine, and Lily, who she knows as Gangan and who is like a grandmother to her, in a house called Starlight. Then, when she was ten, her father Derek snatched her away one day to live with him at the vicarage and refused to let her mother see her anymore, claiming she was ill and unfit. Fable is now grown-up and married to Tony and has a teenage daughter of her own, Cara, who unkindly tends to defy her mother and side with her father against Fable. Her daily life is monotonous and unrewarding though, her husband is spiteful and unkind, she is like a prisoner and her spirit is stifled.
The story sees Fable decide to look back upon her life, remembering magical days from her early childhood, her days with her father, the time with her first love Tobias, then pondering her unhappy marriage, and looking for a new way forward, a way to find herself again:
'I decided what I'd do was go back to the earliest time in my life that I could remember and unravel the memories locked inside my head, pulling the threads until they came loose. Maybe as I rewrote my own story, I'd find the place where the pattern had gone wrong and recreate my life.'
Thinking about the time spent living with her father, she recalls how unhappy she was then, and she felt 'this wasn't really me...soon I'd wake up in my bedroom at Starlight and be my true self again.' She refuses to love her father because of what he has done in separating her from the people she has grown up with and who she loves and trusts. She tries but fails to escape. Fable experiences an all-too-brief but magical period of happiness in her life when she meets and falls in love with Tobias, but this loving relationship is sadly not destined to last, and that she is to experience more than one tragic loss in her life.
Then she meets Tony, and believes that this is her destiny. But he is a mean-spirited, self-centred and controlling man, who doesn't seem to expect Fable to have any life of her own outside their home, just to cater to him and behave as he expects. This leads to Fable feeling so trapped and unhappy. 'Our marriage felt like being in one of those horror films where the walls were closing in and there was no excape.' She is scared to take action because he threatens that she will not see her daughter if she does.
I love the way Fable associates taste with words, she will say this word tasted to her like a certain food, and I also loved how hawthorn always reminds her of Tobias later in her life. Fable is energised by the sunrise at the start of the book: 'the renewal of the earth's energy...matched the need for change inside me', this reminds her how, when she was little, they would elebrate the Winter Solstice and have tarot readings, and these things have remained important to her, such as tarot readings informing her life, though concealed from her husband.
Fable starts creative writing at the local library, and it is through this means of escape and expression that she at last finds solace, and an outlet for her feelings, and where she begins to meet kindred spirits like Linnet and Liam who treat her with kindness and offer her friendship and positivity.
Sue Johnson has created a moving and inspirational story of love, loss, sadness and hope. The time Fable spent with Tobias and the joyful feelings she experienced then are beautifully conveyed by the author. There is tension in the plot when Fable is trapped first with her father, and then with Tony. The fact that Fable finds an eventual way to happiness could be an inspiration to anyone even if they have felt trapped in an unhappy situation for a long time. This story reminds us that it is within us all, with a bit of love, support and encouragement from other kind souls, to find the courage to change our lives and make them better: as Gangan says, 'Magic happens, Fable dear...but you have to help yourself.'
Thank you to the author for kindly sending me a copy of this novel to read and review.
You can follow the author on twitter @SueJohnson9 and visit her website, the Writer's Toolkit where she offers tips and advice on writing.
Sue is part of loveahappyending click the link to find out more.