by Jojo Moyes
Sheltering Rain is the story of three generations of women, each determined not to make the same mistakes as the one before. But one thing they seem destined to repeat is the fractured mother-daughter relationship that inevitably shapes their individual lives.
Relationships are not always easy, and that is certainly the case with Moyes’ interesting and troubled characters. They often require hard work, compromise and tolerance. That is true of all relationships whether it is romantic or familial. And it is this that provides the core of what was Jojo Moyes’ first novel.
One phrase that springs to mind when considering Joy, Kate and Sabina’s stories is that nothing truly worth having ever comes easily. They each deal with love in different ways. Even their ideas of what love is are poles apart. Bu below the surface, behind all the frictions and the misunderstandings, there is a bond that none of them can break.
Joy has been raised in the tight-knit and tight-lipped colonial post-war Hong Kong. Like a lot of teenagers in the early 1950s, she is determined to cast aside the emotionally repressive social niceties of her parents and generation and go her own way. When she meets the dashing naval officer Edward during the Queen’s coronation celebrations, it seems she is about to do just that. But it would seem that her upbringing is more engrained than she realised.
Fast forward to the late 1970s and Joy’s teenage daughter, Kate, is just as determined as her mother was to live life by her own rules, away from the constraining expectations of her socially conscious mother. Fleeing to London under something of a cloud, Kate does just that. Where her other put all her eggs in the one basked with Edward, Kate seems incapable of sustaining a long term relationship. Her life becomes a veritable harvest festival of egg baskets. But even as she struggles to endure he daughter doesn’t face the same constraints as her own formative years, she only succeeds in alienating her in other ways.
For Sabine, now 15 and finding herself back at the family home in southern Ireland, the freedoms her mother allowed her seems to widen the gap between them. She simply does not understand her mother’s apparent inability to sustain a relationship. Despite all her efforts to distance herself from the constraints of her own upbringing, Kate is making the same mistakes with Sabine that Joy did with her, just in a different way.
Sheltering Rain offers an intriguing and compelling insight into the bonds of female relationships. There is something warm and comforting about the story, despite the almost constant conflicts between the various characters.
For me, Jojo Moyes tells wonderful stories and the journalist in her can’t help but add the realism and insight that make them that little bit different from the rest.