Secrets abound in this debut novel by Irish author Mary T Bradford. The Taylors are a wealthy family living in Dublin, but there are major cracks in their perfect facade. When their mother Lillian dies, the four Taylor siblings, Willow, Lacey, Sally and Robert reunite for the funeral and the reading of the will.
The youngest Taylor, Lacey, has always felt slightly left out of the family dynamic. Adored by their late father Joe, Lillian was less supportive, and Lacey can’t understand why her mother was so cold towards her throughout her childhood.
Robert is following in his father’s footsteps, and is a successful businessman. He’s moving on with his personal life, and has begun dating his colleague Aoife. Willow, the eldest, has seemingly the perfect life. Married to Derek, she fills her days with shopping, lunches and social events. However, Willow’s life is not all as it seems, and she finds it impossible to cope with her mother’s death and the revelations that come afterwards.
Sally returns back to Dublin from travelling the world. A wandering soul, she turns out to be the glue that holds the family together over the course of the novel.
Lacey is rocked by the will reading, and the suspense leading to Philip Sherman (the Taylor’s solicitor) announcement is wonderfully sketched. Throughout the reader is kept on tenterhooks, and there are plenty more surprises and twists to come.
Where the book really shines is the depth of the emotional relationships between the siblings. Lacey is a likeable heroine, and the reader feels sympathy for her plight throughout. Even Willow, angry and hurt, commands a level of pity from the reader, and her story is in many ways the book’s most tragic.
My Husband’s Sin does not shy away from tackling difficult issues and themes. The theme of loss is prevalent; loss of parent, identity, hope. These darker subjects are handled with deft sensitivity, and while it could be a gloomy read with the subject matter, it still maintains its light tone and sense of humour. That’s not to say the themes of death are trivialised; the Taylor siblings realise they will have to learn to live their losses, rather than get over them.
Minor characters such as Philip Sherman and Derek stand out. Sherman in particular becomes a father figure to Lacey, and his decency shines through the page. Mary T Bradford has made good use of the Dublin backdrop, using the city’s hustle and bustle to illustrate the characters’ longing for anonymity or liveliness, but the tranquil setting of the city’s beaches are highlighted too.
Although beach read season is over, My Husband’s Sin would be perfect for a holiday read. Stick on the kettle and wrap up with a great first novel.