ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward #BlogTour
It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward. This is an absolutely fantastic read. My thanks to Peyton from Agora for the place on the tour and the beautiful proof copy of the book. It will be published on 28th October in ebook and in paperback on 25th November.
Traversing three generations of women torn apart by family trauma, The Girl in the Maze explores the complex relationship and challenges involved in both mothering and being mothered.
‘I would caution you against delving into the past. The past is often best left exactly where it is.’
Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them.
Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult.
As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother’s past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost.
An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.
The Girl in the Maze is the name of a painting by Margaret, Emma’s mother. Margaret has just passed away and Emma is clearing out her flat. Having had a very difficult relationship with her mother, the discovery of letters and documents that might explain that difficulty send Emma on a path into the past. Whilst most of the story is set in the present and from Emma’s point of view, we also journey into the past and read about how Margaret’s own life started, focusing on her parents and upbringing.
The book begins with a bang, a shocking chapter that took my breath away. Whilst this is in essence a family drama, the author doesn’t hold back on the devastating and life-changing events. This genre of books is one of my favourites and I have to say that I absolutely LOVED The Girl in the Maze. I found it addictive, thought-provoking and moving. The painting of the title pops up many times throughout the story, illustrating how life can be like a maze that you must navigate.
The tagline cautions against delving into the past but it would have been a very different book without it as this is very much a tale of how the past shapes the future. As Emma discovers more about her mother’s life so much slots into place for her and I particularly loved putting the pieces of the jigsaw together myself, aided by the extremely adept writing and plotting by Cathy Hayward.
I also loved the detail, both historical and contemporary, which I drank in hungrily. I couldn’t get enough of it and it had me fully immersed from start to finish. It didn’t feel so much like I was reading a work of fiction, more that I was a part of it, so three-dimensional were these characters, their lives and their secrets. I think this is an amazing debut novel which focuses very much on motherhood down the generations of one family. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s superb!
Cathy Hayward trained as a journalist and edited a variety of trade publications, several of which were so niche they were featured on Have I Got News for You. She then moved into the world of PR and set up an award-winning communications agency. Devastated and inspired in equal measure by the death of her parents in quick succession, Cathy completed The Creative Writing Programme with New Writing South out of which emerged her debut novel, The Girl in the Maze , about the experience of mothering and being mothered. It won Agora Books’ Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize 2020 and was longlisted for the Grindstone Literary Prize 2020.
When she’s not writing (or reading) in her local library, Cathy loves pottering in second-hand bookshops, hiking and wild camping. She lives in Brighton – sandwiched between the Downs and the sea – with her husband, three children, and two rescue cats – one of whom thinks he’s a dog.