The latest uncorrected proof copy of a novel received through a First Reads Goodreads giveaway was Emilie Richards’ The Swallow’s Nest. This was not the first of this author’s novels, which this pedometer geek has read, nor will it be the last based on this story. This is the extended review.
The Swallow’s Nest
By Emilie Richards
Published by Mira Books, 2017
What does it take to be a mother? What makes a family a family? Emilie Richards answers these questions in this poignant novel.
A surprise of a baby brings out the maternal feelings of not one, but three women who wish to mother this child created at a low point in the father’s life.
Graham has just gone into remission from Burkitt’s lymphoma so his wife Lilia throws him a celebratory party. When Marina, the mother of his child, appears at the door, she dumps a screaming three-month-old Toby into Lilia’s arms, and the party comes to an abrupt end.
What a surprise! At least to Lilia, who is blindsided. This leaves their marriage in upheaval over Graham’s betrayal. Returning to her family in Hawaii, she considers all of her options, finally deciding to take on the role of stepmother to Toby. The breach between Graham and Lilia slowly heals, and with no contact or support from Marina during this time, Lilia has truly become Toby’s mother and wants to adopt him, making him officially her son, but then the unthinkable happens.
Now Lilia has to fight for custody of him when two other women, Marina and her mother-in-law Ellen, want the same thing. Love for the same toddler may just tear these women apart as they fight for the right to hold on to Toby.
This novel explores what it means to be a mother. Is it biological, or is it the one who spends the time day after day caring for every need? How about grandmothers and how do they fit into the picture?
It also explores family dynamics as well, particularly regarding estrangement. The title is appropriate for the similarities between the habits of cliff swallows and the characters in the story. It also fits with the lifestyle blog that Lilia Swallow Randolph writes.
As the trio deals with their complex lives, the courts will render a decision that will affect them all.
Poignant, tender, and complex, this story will resonate for anyone who has ever been betrayed by loved ones, for anyone who has loved a child whether related by genetics or not, for anyone who has gone through the pain of dealing with custody, or for anyone who has a dysfunctional family. Or as Lilia thinks to herself, “Family was messy, and nothing that had been decided today was going to be easy.” (page 503)
As this copy was an uncorrected proof, there were a fair amount of errors in the text (incorrect words, missing quotation marks, typos, etc.) that were needed to be fixed; however, after borrowing a published copy, this reader noted that they appeared to have been corrected in the final edit.
The review was necessarily vague to prevent spoilers. Having said that, this emotional story was really worth reading, and this reader especially loved the resolution of the story as it provides for a happily-ever-after for all concerned. Aloha!