Tuesday, 26 October 2021

The Leftovers by Cassandra Parkin BLOG TOUR @cassandrajaneuk @Legend_Times_ #TheLeftovers #BookReview


Callie’s life is spent caring for others – for Frey, her client, and for Noah, her brother. 

When a tragic car accident shatters her family, she’s left alone with her mother Vanessa. 

Vanessa's favourite child was Noah; Callie's favourite parent was her dad. Now they're stuck with each other - the leftovers of their family - and they'll have to confront the ways they've been hurt, and the ways they've passed that hurt on to others.

The Leftovers by Cassandra Parkin was published by Legend Press on 1 October 2021. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 

I was left reeling by the absolute power of this novel. I finished it a few days ago yet the characters still linger in my head. They are the sort of characters that one wants to question, to interrogate and to ask more of. The perfect characters, in the perfect story. 

I've been reading Cassandra Parkin's novels for a long time now and have always admired her style. She's poetic, yet compulsive. She takes some of the darkest issues in society and weaves them so beautifully to create the most powerful, sometimes disturbing stories. I think The Leftovers is her darkest, yet most brilliant novel to date. 

Callie has always been a carer. Even though her brother Noah is older than her, she's spent much of her life protecting him. Noah has to be protected from his own world and his own mind. Callie and Noah's parents split up when they were younger and they both live with their Dad whilst their Mother lives in a cottage overlooking the sea, on her own. 

Callie is also a carer in her professional life. Previously a nurse in A&E, she's been working as a private carer for the last year or so. Two weeks on, two weeks off. She and her fellow carer Josh care for Frey. Frey is non-verbal, intelligent and gentle. His family love him, but cannot care for him. They have the money to ensure that Frey has everything that he needs. 

Callie and her mother have a toxic relationship, and she always loved her Dad far more. Noah and their mother adored each other.  When a terrible accident happens, Callie and her mother are the only ones left .... the leftovers. Trying to make sense of what happened and what is to come. 

The reader sees this story only through the eyes of Callie and she appears to be very authentic, we believe her, she cares about people and she's hurting. However, as the narrative moves on, one begins to wonder about Callie's reliability. It's clear that she's a damaged woman, but we are never quite sure why, although Callie will insist it's because of the way that her mother treated her.

There's a darkness in this story that could become uncomfortable but the brilliance of the author's gentle and sensitive writing adds such a layer of empathy that the reader is compelled to find out more. I'm not sure that we do actually find out the truth here though.  Callie certainly begins to recognise parts of her behaviour that could be damaging, but what she eventually does about that is left to the reader to imagine. 

A very difficult book to talk about without going into detail that would spoil it for potential readers, but it's a really stunning piece of writing, nuanced, comfortable at times but incredibly powerful. Highly recommended. 

Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. 

Her short story collection, New
World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories.

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