August 11

Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon

I try to resist new books wallpapered with glowing reviews written by people I’ve never heard of. I’ve been burnt badly by this promotional hi-jinx so I judge these review-laden titles with skeptical side-eyes and immediately get a whiff of impending disappointment and regret.

Not this time.

I am happy (and damn relieved) to report this one definitely lived up to the hype. I picked it up purely because I loved the cover and obviously was having an optimistic moment. Book in hand, I walked to the checkout with fingers crossed I didn’t have a dog in my hand and happy days Readhead, I definitely didn’t.

Glorious. Elegant. Understated. Poignant. Gentle. Perfection. On and on and on the reviewers go. And because we like to give our two cents, I am now adding my two words. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

David is married to Mary Rose when she dies in a plane crash. Nothing But Blue Sky is his recovery and reckoning. You don’t really get to hear a whole lot about the details of the disaster (which was a bit of a bugger because I was desperate to know more), but you walk with David through the fallout.

The book is mostly about what happens in a marriage. What you think it is while you are in it and what you learn it is after.

As a widower, David attempts to keep alive the traditions he and Mary Rose built so he heads on holiday to their favourite place. He walks their old haunts, retraces every habit, sits at their favourite tables to eat, drink, take coffee. He clings to everything that bound them together….until, of course, that strange change-agent comes into play to push him along. Time.

It is deeply, desperately sad. MacMahon creates the perfect voice for David – not too emotional, a little self obsessed and selfish and after Mary dies, untethered. He is lost without Mary Rose, functioning but adrift. All the emotions emerge when the reality of their marriage is unpicked. There are secrets – there always are and without a way of talking it through with Mary Rose, David’s only choice is to accept.

Written mostly against incredible European seaside backdrops, it’s beautiful and evocative especially if you’ve been lucky enough to visit places like those described. You’ll be transported and you’ll absolutely be taken by David and Mary Rose. She sounded glorious. I can see why he just wanted more of her. I did too.

But that is just my two cents worth.