Friday 1 August 2014

Maranatha by John Mullen

Sarah is in a loveless marriage with an apathetic husband and grown up children. 
Diagnosed as having a life threatening illness, she is shocked at the coldness of her family s reaction. 
After undergoing radical treatment in hospital Sarah decides to leave her family and is persuaded to take a holiday in an isolated cottage in Ireland. 
Can Sarah start a new life for herself?

Maranatha by John Mullen was published by Olympia Publishers in November 2013.

Sarah is an attractive women in her thirties, living in Salisbury with her far from loving husband. Sarah's life feels empty and it is only her work at the Cancer Charity shop and her best friend Bridie that keeps her spirits up.  Sarah's husband is more interested in football and the TV than his wife, her two children are grown up and neither of them appear to notice their mother, or show her any love or respect.

The diagnosis of a serious illness becomes Sarah's turning-point. As she fights to beat the disease that is ravishing her body, she makes some life-altering decisions. With the help of her friend Bridie, Sarah begins to build a new life for herself, where she is the most important person.

Sarah travels to Donegal, on the north-west coast of Ireland, to stay in a little cottage called Maranatha, and it is there in that desolate, yet beautiful place that she finally realises that she is so much more than just a wife and a mother.

Maranatha is a love story and a journey.  Whilst I enjoyed the story, I did long for more depth within the characters, I would have liked to learn more about Sarah's marriage. The first half of the story which concentrate on Sarah's illness felt quite clinical, with little emotion shown by any of the characters. Sarah makes some major life decisions that will affect not just her, but her husband and children, yet this is treated almost as though she's just decided to pop out the shops for a few hours.

I enjoyed the second half of Marantha far more than the first, and it was the setting of County Donegal that had attracted me to the book in the first place. My family are from Donegal and I spent every summer of my childhood there, so as Sarah and McBride explore the area I could picture the places that they were discovering.

John Mullen certainly brings Donegal to life. The white rock of Mount Errigal, the desolation of the peat bogs, the beauty of the gardens of Glenveagh are all captured so well and Donegal is the real star of this story.

The author incorporates many topical concerns into the story, and at times this did feel a little forced. McBride is a man who has strong beliefs, whether it is the treatment of pupils by the Irish Christian Brothers back in the 1950s, the plight of the world's rain forests or the issue of international drug barons, Mullen has managed to incorporate a speech about these beliefs within the dialogue. Whilst these are very valid and quite interesting, I did feel that they detracted from the main story at times.

Maranatha is an easy to read story, at it's heart it is a love story, but for me it was a story of 'home', and the beauty of the north west Irish countryside is wonderfully painted.

My thanks to Olympia Publishers who sent my copy for review.

John Mullen was born in Dundalk, Ireland and now lives in the south of Spain 

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