#BookReview – The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage. But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name. But no one will speak to her now.
Cornelia Blackwood has unravelled once before. Can she stop it from happening again?
 
From a supremely talented storyteller, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a powerful novel of motherhood, loss and loneliness and how we can make damaging choices when pushed to our emotional edge. A paperback bestseller with her debut novel, The Things We Never Said, and nominated for an RNA Award in 2014, Susan Elliot Wright has written a truly important novel that explores the dark depths of psychosis with honesty and sensitivity. 

Published February 2019 by Simon and Schuster UK 

~ Review ~ 

Sometimes you just know, after only a couple of sentences, that you are reading something special that’s going to stay with you a long time. The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood was one such book, and by the end of the first page I was in love with Susan Elliot Wright’s writing and emotionally entangled in the life of it’s lead character, Leah (Cornelia)

It begins with a scene of a broken woman, shunned by neighbours and her local community and struggling with obvious physical health complaints and hints at a deeper psychological trauma. It then shifts to a few years previous where Leah’s life is very different – she’s young, in love and about to embark on creating the family she and her soulmate husband so desire. I was immediately drawn in – what had happened to Leah to make her the person she was now and what had she done to ostracise herself from the people around her?  As chapters switch from Then and Now, we learn the tragic story of Leah’s recent past while watching her car crash present lead to unavoidable catastrophe.

This is a dark tale, and Leah is a tragic character whose story is truely heartbreaking. Yet the compassion and empathy she is written with is so acute, that the reader is with her every step of the way, sympathising and understanding her, crying for her and hoping for her. Even when her choices are bad and clearly doomed, I got it. Leah really did get right under my skin.

Postpartum psychosis is a topic that isn’t really talked about. I’ve had two children myself, yet can’t remember ever hearing about it during anti or pre-natal care. In The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood, the author tackles the subject with sensitivity and care, while drawing attention to a little discussed condition that could effect any woman who gives birth. The same level of care and dignity is afforded to Leah’s tragic losses and grief.  This is an incredibly emotional and moving book, I defy anyone not to be moved to tears.

Yet there are some outstandingly beautiful and uplifting moments in this book – in Leah’s early days with her husband, in her love for a small child she befriends. it’s pure and tender and written so eloquently, I could feel Leah’s joy at those moments. This is a book that will make you feel many, many emotions. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and once I’d finished it stayed in my mind for days after. It is, without doubt, up there among one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years and I’ll be reading more from this author very soon. I can’t recommend this book enough.

I read an early proof copy courtesy of the publisher.

 

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