Posted by: Kate | April 4, 2011

Book Review: Mourning Ruby

Helen Dunmore has a way of telling stories that seems so gentle, yet is quietly powerful. Her book, Mourning Ruby, is about one woman’s story and how the other important people in her life are part of that story. It is a story of beginnings, and of loss, and of childhood, and of love. The author skirts around much of the inner-most story, the loss of a child, giving it to the reader in pieces that slowly magnify the centre.

There was much about the book that I enjoyed. The descriptive writing, the relationships between the main characters, the ease with which the author takes you into the story — all of these things were superb. But there were things that seemed confusing to me. One of the characters begins to write a story for the main character Rebecca, and this leaves me a little puzzled. I wasn’t sure how it fit, really. For me the book could have done without that side story, and still been just as strong a novel. As the author went further into that particular relationship and the story being written, I felt lost, which was a little annoying at that point in the book (towards the end). I felt that the first two-thirds of the book were getting you to draw these connections, yet the last third didn’t complete them. Maybe that was the point, that the connections weren’t complete, but then to me a large part of the last third of the book could have been taken out and the story would have been just as strong.

In the end, I came away not sure how to think of the book. On one hand, maybe I’m correct and it was confusing at the end and lost some of its original power and motion. On the other hand, maybe I’m just not smart enough to grasp what the last section was about, and why it was essential to the story.

I want to read more of this author, I’ve had her book The Siege on my list for a while now. I just hope that I am up to the challenge.



  1. I’ve had that happen before too, a section of a novel or film seem out of place to me and I find myself sort of floating above the story, bothered by the confusion. I always wonder how others are interpreting the same work.

  2. I just loved this book. Helen Dunmore is one of my favourite authors! All of her books are great reads! Enjoy! Ros

  3. I’ve not heard of the book, but I seriously doubt that you aren’t smart enough to grasp that section. Sometimes it seems authors try to make the presentation more ‘unique’ or ‘interesting’ rather than just letting the story stand on its own merits. For some of the more talented writers, they can pull it off. For others, it just leaves the reader feeling confused and frustrated.

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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