The Reunion By Roisin Meaney
Caroline, now a successful knitwear designer, spends her time flying between her business in England and her lover in Italy. As far as she’s concerned, her school days, and what happened to her the year she left, should stay in the past. Eleanor, meanwhile, is unrecognisable from the fun-loving girl she was in school. With a son who is barely speaking to her, and a husband keeping a secret from her, revisiting the past is the last thing on her mind. But when an unexpected letter arrives for Caroline in the weeks before the reunion, memories are stirred. Will the sisters find the courage to return to the town where they grew up and face what they’ve been running from all these years?
This is actually the first book I’ve read by Roisin and it was such a lovely introduction to the Irish author.
In this book, we meet sisters Caroline and Eleanor just at the moment that Caroline receives an invite to her secondary school reunion which brings her back to a difficult time in her life.
The book is spilt into two parts, the first part is set in the 1990’s whilst part two moves forward to 2015 and the chapters alternate between the sisters as they both deal with different dramas in their lives.
In 1993, Caroline is raped by a family friend and confides in her mother, instead of being there for her during this traumatic time, her mother ships her off to England for an abortion to live with her mother’s cousin, Florence. Caroline is totally against the abortion and instead decides to carry the baby full term and to put it up for adoption whilst staying with Florence. Florence is a rough and ready type of person, who takes no nonsense but has a huge heart and is there for Caroline. She’s a traditional woman with little needs who fled Ireland many years ago and has an eclectic group of friends who distract Caroline from her pregnancy and fears. Back in Ireland, her younger sister Eleanor, is grieving for her older sister and her first boyfriend who had just dumped her. Bitter and unhappy, Eleanor is determined to move on and find a new love.
The story alternates from the narrative of both sisters as they deal with the troubles of life, with Caroline, it’s the guilt of giving her only child away and with Eleanor, it’s a tragedy of losing a child in an accident and not being able to move on.
Warmly written with a collection of entertaining and kind characters, this book was a lovely introduction to the Irish author. The story tackles the stigma of teenage pregnancy and how it was handled back in rural Ireland, in the 1990s, the shame that it brought on the family. The girls mother is a terribly hard hearted woman who’s primary concern is her appearance and what other people think. She can’t bear the thought of a teenage pregnancy and even when Caroline confides in her about the rape, she almost blames her for the attack.
The book travels neatly between the sisters and their stories weave together in a fluid manner. Engaging from the very start, this story was charming and a delight to read. Filled with drama and second chances, ‘The Reunion’ is a wonderful tale.
You can buy The Reunion from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.