And another lovely review for Jumping in Puddles is in!
Courtesy of author and reviewer, Mary Malone
Detta O’Neill returns to the Donegal Village of Rathinch, determined to help others in her hometown and make her existence matter. Guarding personal secrets closely, she sets up a support group for Lone Parents. Despite the chagrin and tut-tutting of nosey villagers, Detta’s weekly meetings become an escape for four people who, despite their differing circumstances, take solace in each other and share their innermost concerns.
Niamh Quigley is the envy of many. Her house is the biggest and fanciest in the parish, her two children are perfect miniatures of their parents and her kitchen – particularly her island which plays a significant part in her story – is to die for. But an unfortunate accident kills her husband, Sean, and Niamh is left numb and at variance with the world. Cleaning out her husband’s office forces her to look beyond the image Sean had portrayed and for the first time ever, she sees him for what he truly was – a lying, double-crossing cheat.
Ruth Byrne’s husband has run off with a much younger woman, leaving her to cope alone with three squabbling teenagers. But it’s not all bad and a small part of Ruth is relieved he’s gone. Joining the group for some adult conversation, she’s shocked to see ‘the younger woman’s’ husband is also in need of comfort and unlikely as it is, the two become firm friends.
Liam Dougherty’s mother is suffocating him ever since his wife left him and their daughter. Using the lone parents’ group as a means of weekly escape, he finds it difficult at first to divulge his feelings. He’s determined to win his wife back, seeing her affair as a temporary lapse. But spending time in the company of others shows him another side of life and makes him question the relationship he’d shared with his wife. For the first time in quite a while, Liam is contented.
Ciara Boyle is the youngest of the group. A single Mum at seventeen, she has kept the name of her baby’s father secret – even from her mum. Working in the local shop and serving her friends after school reminds Ciara about the choices her pregnancy forced her to make. And even though she finds it very tough going, she knows in her heart that her baby is worth every sacrifice. Meeting up with other single parents gives Ciara a purpose each week and she finds it easier to open up and take advice in the group environment.
All four and Detta find their lives become more and more entwined and soon the boundaries between group meetings and real friendship blur and their support goes to a much deeper level, dangerously close for a certain few.
Jumping In Puddles is a story tinged with personal grievance and sadness but Claire Allen’s natural ability to inject an appropriate amount of humour into the story - without undermining the seriousness of the trials of single parenting - adds warmth and enjoyment to every page.
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