Book Review: Redemption Song, by Laura Wilkinson

Publisher:   Accent Press   |   Publication date:   28th January 2016

Redemption Song My Review

Redemption Song Cover

Life, loss and love harmonize beautifully to play all the right notes in Redemption Song.

Many people suffer in silence, holding in their bereavement until their emotions escalate and in turn this holds them back from actually living. Saffron and her mum are two such people. After the death of people close to them Saffron takes a break from her studies at medical school to return home to live with her mum, unusually called Rain, a minister of the local chapel, which is badly in need of repair.

Despite her strong belief that religion will be there for her through everything, even Rain is having reservations and privately copes with her husband’s death in the only way she knows, by taking anti-depressants when she feels an anxiety attack creeping up on her.

Mother and daughter have been thrown together as a result of a tragic event. Both are suffering in different ways, despite not confiding in each other of their concerns and as a consequence their unhappiness grows deeper everyday. That is, until the mysterious carpenter Joe Jones arrives on the scene when the old car Saffron was driving broke down in deep snow. Joe’s old Landrover is as reliable as he is and at first he’s only too happy to help, despite the young woman’s frosty reception.

There’s a hint from the early beginnings that Saffron and Joe might be destined to develop feelings for each other. They are both concealing secrets and hidden feelings from their respective pasts and they are both learning to trust for different reasons. The failing chapel roof brings Joe and his carpentry skills closer to the family, and little by little Saffron thaws to his charms, even when he’s trying to keep his distance and is being politely aloof and very, very mysterious.

Saffron warms to Joe and confides in him, but he’s still looking over his shoulder and not wanting to get too close. Throughout we hear snippets of conversations he has with a close friend who gives him fair warning when his past is about to catch up with him. The warning gives little detail at the beginning, so you’re left guessing as to why he might have to move on without saying goodbye.

Meanwhile, Rain is headed for a melt-down, as she is coping with her problems by herself while battling the congregation’s attitude toward her as the ‘new’ girl on the block. Competing with her predecessor does not help her situation, and when she embarks on saving the old ballroom by the pier she has yet another fight on her hands.

The enigmatic Joe appears too good to be true as he may have discovered an unexpected solution to the parish’s problems, much to everyone’s relief and surprise. It appears it’s not the only surprise he has up his sleeve, as a shadowy figure from his past comes back to haunt him and Saffron’s newly settled life is in danger of taking flight again.

Redemption Song sees testing bouts of confusion and shining moments of clarity, when people confront events they’re running away from and stop holding others at arms length, no matter how difficult it may seem at first. It’s a wonderful story of learning to trust and forgive others, even yourself – sometimes horrific things may happen in our lives, but if you’re given a chance at finding true happiness, you shouldn’t turn your back on it.

This is a lovely, gentle-paced read with a sense of community spirit at it’s heart, and I’m truly happy to have been given the opportunity to relax and enjoy it. 

Rating: 4/5

(I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the author for generously providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review – it’s much appreciated.)

Redemption Song Book Summary

(Courtesy of Accent Press release)

Redemption Song is the powerful new novel by Laura Wilkinson, critically acclaimed author of  Public Battles, Private Wars. This engaging and beautifully written book explores themes of loss and loss, set against the atmospheric landscape of a small seaside community.

Saffron is studying for a promising career in medicine until a horrific accident changes her life for ever. Needing to escape London, she moves to a coastal town to live with her mother. Saffron feels trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider – despite initial misgivings, they grow closer to each other as they realise they have a lot in common. Like Saffron, Joe has a complicated past that’s creeping up on his present…

Can Joe escape his demons for long enough to live a normal life – and can Saffron reveal the truth about what really happened on that fateful night? Love is the one thing they need most, but will they – can they – risk it?


Remdemption Song Author Bio

(Courtesy of Accent Press release)

Laura Wilkinson Author

Laura Wilkinson says: “I’m fascinated by the human capacity to heal and move on from traumatic, damaging events, especially when we feel responsible. Honesty and forgiveness, for ourselves and others, can be hard to find. Guilt and hatred can linger and poison. I wanted to explore the role family, friends and the wider community play in the process of repair; the importance of love and hope in moving towards new beginnings.”

Former journalist Laura Wilkinson grew up in North Wales and lives in Brighton. Alongside writing fiction, she works as a reader and editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, and a mentor for The Writing Coach. She has published short stories in magazines and anthologies, and novels. Public Battles, Private Wars was a Welsh Books Council Book of the Month in 2014.