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by Serena Mackesey
Soho , October 2008
352 pages
ISBN: 1569475334

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

HOLD MY HAND is the story of Bridget Fletcher, an abused housewife and mother who tries to find a peaceful and safe life for her daughter and herself away from her increasingly dangerous husband, Kieran, a handsome and successful stockbroker. Each time he is arrested or questioned by authorities about the treatment of his wife, he denies doing anything wrong. Bridget has a restraining order against him which he continually violates. His co-workers and friends always come to his aid even though his wife constantly displays bruises and black eyes, and their daughter has a broken arm all due to his uncontrollable need to exercise power over those weaker than himself.

In one last push for permanent independence in order to protect her daughter, Bridget changes her name and applies for the job of housekeeper in a mansion in Cornwall. The absentee owner and his family have had a difficult time retaining staff. When Bridget gets the job and begins meeting the villagers, she learns that strange things go on in the old mansion that have kept the locals from wanting to apply for the job. Bridget is stalwart even when the lights go out at inopportune times, and she continues to get harassing and threatening calls from Kieran on her cell phone. However, when holiday guests staying at the house show the violent damage done to their room and Yasmin is always acting oddly and talking to Lily, a child evacuee who lived in the house during the Second World War and who has not been heard of since, Bridget almost has a breakdown.

The story is told in flashbacks, a technique that is at times confusing, with awkward transitions. I found the unexpected change of voice, even in the same scene, to be jarring and the disjointed sentences frustrating. However, the story is riveting and complex. Mackesy has certainly tackled a host of interesting subjects in this story of the supernatural, communication from beyond the grave, and the ugly world of battered spouses of either sex. It was a tough combination to meld together. I do look forward to reading other books by Serena Mackesy because she seems to be trying to stretch herself and that can be a very good thing. Though painful to read in the beginning, in the end the book rewards the reader with a complex and satisfying story.

Reviewed by Ginger K.W. Stratton, October 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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