Come Sunday by Isla Morley is set in the beautiful Hawaiian islands, where Morley herself has lived for a while, and in South Africa, where she grew up. I was instantly intrigued by these beautiful, lush locales, especially since Morley had experienced these settings herself.
Abbe, the mother in this story, has many things she is trying to deal with. Her marriage to Greg, a pastor, is in need of some work. So, too, is Abbe's past. Her own mother had an affair, something Abbe is able to excuse because of her father's mean treatment of his family. Abbe's father dies suddenly just hours after Abbe leaves South Africa for college, and her mother dies just a few months later. While she still is close with her brother Rhiann, the two live far apart, and don't see each other often. Just about the only thing Abbe doesn't seem conflicted about is her role as Cleo's mother. Her beautiful young daughter has brought Abbe happiness and joy, and when she is killed accidentally- struck by a car as she darts onto the road while pursuing a runaway kite- Abbe's entire life is forever changed.
There are many books written about the loss of a child, often trying to find a way to effectively and realistically share what such a loss looks and feels like. I appreciated Morley's writing - the way she was able to share Abbe's feelings without making them too hard to read about. Yet at the same time Morley didn't sugarcoat Abbe's experience, either. Abbe didn't return to the way she had been prior to Cleo's death. She experienced anger, rage really, at the man who was driving the car that hit her daughter. She was angry with her friend who was babysitting Cleo when the accident occurred, feeling almost as though the death of her friend's husband was punishment for Cleo's death. Her marriage was not able to survive the loss of Cleo, as she and Greg grew further apart. Time continues to move on, something Abbe talks about frequently as she watches each minute away from her daughter pass by on the small digital clock she keeps, taking it with her on a trip to South Africa to sell her parents' farm. When the clock is stolen it is more than Abbe can bear - the clock that had been the keeper of every minute since Cleo's death.
Morley has created a complex story, much like real life. This is a book that I was able to put down while reading, sometimes wondering how much I was really enjoying it. And yet, this is also a book that once I have finished it, I am thinking a lot about. Abbe does find a way to go on, and life continues to move forward as we know it must. There are several people in Abbe's life who have given her wisdom to deal with the loss she has endured, and I appreciated the various people and backgrounds created by Morley that impart this wisdom.
Come Sunday is a solid women's fiction book, full of things to discuss and enjoy. I will be thinking about Abbe and Cleo for quite a while.