A lifetime later, Julia is a child psychologist working with young girls at risk. In her sessions, Julia has a knack for determining which of her young patients are truly troubled, and which are simply at ther mercy of the oppressive adults around them. Margaret Forster weaves a quietly powerful story of the relationship between past and current reality--when Julia's own troubled childhood begins to invade her present and she is forced to confront her relationship with misplaced guilt, the possibility arises that the truth of her past may not be as devastating as she has always feared.
Forster's subtle writing proves the perfect compliment to the darkness of Julia's past, as she tells a story of maturation, reconciliation, and one woman's psychological evolution. The Unknown Bridesmaid explores personal history and familial bonds, guilt and redemption, to reveal that even the seemingly average life is anything but ordinary.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-10-13
- Reviewer: Staff
With integrity and insight, Forster (Georgy Girl) portrays a London child psychologist whose painful past won't let her go. Julia learned early in life from her mother, who never shared the mystery of her absent father, that secrecy is a helpful "policy of self-protection." So lying came easily for young Julia when adults questioned her about a fateful, terrible afternoon. Julia's story begins as an eight-year-old bridesmaid for her cousin, Iris, whose joy was shortlived with her new husband. Happiness returns to the family when Iris becomes a mother. Entrusted with Iris's newborn, Julia secretly takes the baby for a forbidden walk, but the pram tips on its side by accident. Julia never divulges her secret walk, setting in motion the guilt that will define much of her life. More unhappiness is to come, and by high school, Julia is miserable, living with Iris's young family; she becomes adept at lying, cheating, stealing, and terrorizing them. Julia leaves for college, severing ties with her relatives. Years pass, and Julia becomes well-known for her work with troubled girls—dialogue from her patient sessions alternates with scenes of her childhood. Julia's youthful indiscretions do not hold her back professionally, yet she longs for forgiveness. In the end, a stranger inadvertently provides the impetus, leading to a life-changing decision. Forster's complicated portrait is affecting and memorable. (Sept.)