Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore

Dunmore certainly adds dark or disturbing elements to her novels and perhaps this why I enjoy her novels so much. Her writing always flows easily and are generally page-turners yet the subjects I've read so far have included incest, child murder and starvation. I find that quite often her novels are heartbreaking without being depressing and Mourning Ruby is no exception.

The titles Ruby died aged five leaving both her parents Rebecca and Adam completely heartbroken and bereft. The book takes place a couple of years after Ruby's death where Rebecca in particular is struggling and is estranged from Adam. It is not just about Rebecca's grief however, it is also about her own hopes for the future and at times is surprisingly uplifting.

The writing is as always poetic yet very accessible. The subject matter will always be heartbreaking but this is especially so given the huge presence that Ruby has in the book both through flashbacks and through Rebecca. Other characters like Mr Damiano, Rebecca's boss enrich the novel in other ways and it is through their stories that the more minor characters take centre stage at various parts.

Unfortunately towards the end there is a story within a story thing going on which appears to lead nowhere and left me perplexed. This involves the beginnings of a novel which Rebecca's friend has written. Perhaps I just didn't get it but unfortunately this did spoil it somewhat.

Not Dunmore's best but worth a read.

Verdict 3/5

Posted by Jess


  1. I recently got a set of all Dunmore's books from the book people and don't know where to start. Is The Siege a good one? Or A Spell of Winter?

  2. I have read a couple of Dunmore's books - The Siege and the sequel to it. I must try and read more.

  3. I've never read any of her books, but she is on my list. Good to know this is not one of the better ones, so might leave it till later :-)

  4. I keep meaning to give Helen Dunmore another go. I tried The Siege on audiobook and found it was awful, but I think that had more to do with the narration. Glad to hear this one wasn't too bad for you Jessica!

  5. Sam - I got that set from thebookpeople as well! I think a Spell of Winter is a good place to start as its very atmospheric and had that same sadness

    Marg - I keep meaning to read the sequal to the Seige I even saw it in a bookshop the other day

    mummmazappa - when I have read them all I must put them in order but The Seige or a Spell of Winter are good starts

    pinksheepcafe - ah I hate bad narrations, I imagine the Seige being read out loud but just got depressing after a while!

  6. Interesting review which has still left me undecided as to if I really want to read this one.