Shoot the Moon by Bella Cassidy
This is a book of family, love and the difficulty of coping with relationships in the twenty first century. Tassie is a talented photographer who once travelled and took unusual pictures but is now on the staff of a bridal magazine. She seems to have difficulty in committing to a relationship with a partner, although she has some good friends. Her father is a farmer, and she is happy to get to the family farm in Shropshire to see him, as well as working on her small but productive garden in London. Her relationship with her coldly distant her mother is more difficult, and she has never understood why throughout her life. The only relationship which has survived over the years is a secret matter which brings her no joy, but every other man seems too difficult.
This is a clever novel of an independent woman who is talented and busy but has gaps in her life. The author has written a book with an assured voice, and a real understanding of life for women at this time. I found it an absorbing read with lots of incidents and the details of unusual weddings are fascinating. It is not limited to a London bubble as the weddings Tassie is sent to photograph are in various parts of Britain. There has obvious been a lot of thought and research into the settings of this book, especially in Scotland. There is also lots of humour threaded through this book, especially in the dialogue. There are moments of farce, as the weddings Tassie is despatched to cover are in tricky places and are essentially unpredictable. The characters are so vividly drawn that I really enjoyed encountering them, and there are some genuinely touching moments amid the laughter and detail of people met on significant days in their lives. I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this lovely book.
As the novel begins Tassie has an unusual encounter with a small girl, who seems to be observing her, but just as surely disappeared. Syd, her friend who arranges which wedding Tassie will cover, is a convincing character. The first wedding between two doctors is very special, if only because of the evident love between the couple and their families. Tassie is proud and pleased to show off her gardening skills, and her new found interest in making cheese, and enjoys spending time with good friends. She is still essentially alone, as her romantic life is shaped by a secret that she finds difficult to escape. A discussion about unconditional love will shape what happens later, but before that Tassie is sent to Scotland for a mountain wedding. Her encounter with Dan makes her wonder about her calm acceptance of her situation, especially when everything takes a romantic turn, though it is not long before life intervenes. The complexity of her family hits her, and everything seems to be changed.
This is a wise and even inspiring novel, as it made me think about the importance of love in so many aspects, including romantic love, mother love and friendship as it suggests in the description of the book. The essential message is of accepting oneself, for the past, the present and the future, and valuing what we want. This is a well written book which is an enjoyable read and offers much to think about.