Blog Tour: The Darlings
THE DARING NEW NOVEL FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE EMERGENCE OF JUDY TAYLOR
When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.
He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.
One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?
This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.
I read and reviewed this book as part of the #damppebblesblogtours all of the views expressed below are my own. Thank you to Angela Jackson for my copy of the book and Emma Welton from Damppebblesblogtours for organising this tour.
The Darlings by Angela Jackson tells the story of Mark, a troubled man who seems to have lost his way after a series of traumatising events during his life. Mark's troubles started when he accidentally killed his best friend during a school PE lesson, this was closely followed by the death of his parents. It seems that Mark is stuck at rock bottom until he meets Sadie, the woman who drags Mark out of his despair and by all accounts seems to fix him.
The story is set years later when Mark bumps into an old school friend, Ruby, who was there the day of the accident and is able to give Mark an insight into what happened from an outsider's perspective. Their chance meeting leads to a drawn-out affair that Mark, being married, cannot fully commit himself to.
I have to start off by saying that Angela Jackson has created a very believable and grounded set of characters in The Darlings; they may not always do the nicest of things to one another, but this gives them a realness and a grittiness.
The story is told mainly from Mark's perspective, so we get to know and understand his inner thoughts and feelings. And while I don't justify his affair, once I had understood Mark and his past, I could sort of understood why he fell for Ruby. In Mark's eyes, Ruby holds all of the answers and can shed light for him on that fateful day when they were children - something that Sadie can't do - and this seems to be a big motivation for starting the affair.
I thought Ruby was an interesting character; when we first meet her, she's independent and strong. She's working in a job she enjoys and isn't yet married, she has an aura of empowerment around her which I quite liked. But the way she developed as a character was quite unexpected for me. She really falls for Mark and I was never quite sure if he truly felt the same way about her.
Out of all the characters, my favourite was Ava, Sadie's younger sister, a future tennis star. Again, I like her realness and no-bullshit attitude to her life. I also liked her relationship with Mark; the two seem to have an understanding that Mark lacks with the rest of Sadie's family. Their unspoken agreement around the Wii console and tennis game at Mark and Sadie's house was quite touching - they didn't need to say much to one another but you can feel their bond.
I think Angela Jackson has created a captivating story that deals with the difficulties and struggles that some people face in their everyday lives (a sort of warts and all approach). But this has allowed her to truly dig under the skin of the characters, especially Mark and Ruby, and help the reader understand the decisions that they've made. While it's not a fast-paced story, you still get the kick of adrenaline around what will happen to Mark and Ruby's relationship and whether Sadie will ever find out...
About Angela Jackson:
Angela Jackson is a former psychology lecturer and teacher trainer. Her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award and was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year.
The Darlings is her second novel.
Originally from the north of England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh.
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3cpZ7gk
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3v3OgiD
Published in paperback and digital formats by Eye Books on 21st June 2021