Monday 25 October 2021

The Girl In The Maze by Cathy Hayward BLOG TOUR @CathyHayward7 #TheGirlInTheMaze @AgoraBooksLDN #BookReview


Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them.

Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult.

As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother's past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost.

An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.

The Girl In The Maze by Cathy Hayward is published on 28 October 2021 by Agora Books.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour.

This really is an extraordinary novel. It's so beautifully written, with a bravery that is admirable for a debut novelist. The opening pages are shocking, brutal and hard hitting. Dealing with such an emotive and sensitive subject right from the outset must have been a hard decision to make, but it's one that certainly pays off. 

This is the story of three women, told in two voices. Betty, the character from the beginning of the book, her daughter Margaret and then Margaret's own daughter Emma. The reader only gets the actual voices of Betty and Emma, with Margaret's story being outlined as Emma discovers more about her recently deceased mother. 

Emma and Margaret's relationship had been almost non-existent in the years before Margaret's death. As an only child, it is left to Emma to clear her mother's house, and deal with the instructions in her will. She's helped by Margaret's solicitor Graham Eels, who it transpires was also a long-time friend to Margaret, and knows far more about her past than Emma could ever have imagined. Graham cautions Emma against 'delving into the past', but she becomes determined to find out just why her mother behaved as she did. 

This is a story that deals with some of the darkest and emotionally challenging topics that a woman can face, and is ultimately a story about the mother/daughter relationship, with all of its difficulties and complexities that often happen. Whilst Emma is settled in a happy marriage with three much loved children, her past relationships and those of her mother and grandmother have had a lasting effect on her. 

A story told with great authority, written with an apparent ease by a very talented author, The Girl in the Maze will stay with me for a very long time. Be prepared to feel the pain of the characters, experience the utter despair when they find themselves in circumstances that feel unbearable and be totally moved by the expertise of the writing. Highly recommended by me. 

Cathy Hayward trained as a journalist and edited a variety of trade publications, several of which
were so niche they were featured on Have I Got News for You. She then moved into the world of PR and set up an award-winning communications agency. Devastated and inspired in equal measure by the death of her parents in quick succession, Cathy completed The Creative Writing Programme with New Writing South out of which emerged her debut novel The Girl in the Maze about the experience of mothering and being mothered. It won Agora Books’ Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize 2020 and was longlisted for the Grindstone Literary Prize 2020.

When she’s not writing (or reading) in her local library, Cathy loves pottering in second-hand bookshops, hiking and wild camping. She lives in Brighton – sandwiched between the Downs and the sea –  with her husband, three children, and two rescue cats – one of whom thinks he’s a dog. 

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