As with the Kate Atkinson book, I chose Alice Sebold’s latest novel on the basis of having enjoyed her previous work. Maybe “enjoyed” isn’t quite the right word for a powerful novel narrated posthumously by a raped and murdered teenager (The Lovely Bones) and a searing memoir about her own experience of rape (Lucky). But I thought both those books were thought-provoking and very well-written.
I almost gave up on The Almost Moon within a few pages. The basic premise is that Helen, a woman who has always had a difficult and intense relationship with her mother actually murders her mother when the mother is elderly and in need of care. I’d say my mom and I have had as complex a relationship as most mothers and daughters, but Helen’s assumption that lots of people have thought about murdering their parents without actually doing it, left me behind. The murder made Helen’s character so unattractive to me from the beginning that I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay with her for the rest of the book.
It did get better as the story follows Helen through the days after her crime and she attempts to deal with what she has done. But I always found her such an unpleasant and unlikable person that I remained at a distance from the book, and I wasn’t sorry at all when it was over. This won’t go down as one of my favourite books, or even one of my favourite Alice Sebold books.