Thursday 17 October 2019

Tragic dilemma gets under the skin

Fiction: Seven Letters

Sinead Moriarty

Penguin Ireland, €13.99

Seven Letters by Sinead Moriarty
Seven Letters by Sinead Moriarty

Margaret Madden

Sarah and Adam are over the moon to discover she is pregnant again, and that she's having a boy. Their little family will be complete.

Seven-year-old Izzy worries her mum will love her less when the baby arrives, but Sarah reassures her that she has plenty of love to go around.

Izzy's First Holy Communion is coming up and the girls are planning a very special day of celebration.

Mia's journalist husband has been made redundant and she is working extra hours to pay the never-ending bills. Frustrated with Johnny's laid-back attitude and their teenage daughter's mood swings, the atmosphere is tense. Luckily, there is always a glass of wine waiting for her, at Sarah's house. More than just sisters, the two women are best friends and share everything.

Their world collapses when Sarah suffers a brain injury and a devastating decision needs to be made. Should Sarah be kept alive until her baby is 24 weeks, or should she be allowed to die with dignity?

The family are split in their opinions: "'What a mess. What a total and utter mess. I can't mourn her, and I can't not mourn her. I think limbo might be worse than hell'."

Mia discovers seven letters, addressed to her niece: "On each envelope, Sarah had written - Letters of love from a mother to her daughter - Izzy's first year. Each letter was another year, Izzy's second year, and on up to Izzy's seventh year.

"Mia felt her throat ache. Izzy, beautiful, sweet, innocent Izzy. Sarah had written love letters to her, and now Izzy would have them forever."

Moriarty's 14th novel has a momentous dilemma at its core and it will crawl under your skin, refusing to let go. A heartbreaking read, written with finesse.

Highly recommended.

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