Nothing But Blue Sky

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Member Reviews

This book takes a wander through the mind of David, who has been widowed unexpectedly and who has a lot of time on his hands to go over their married life and his earlier life and reframe his experiences in light of where he finds himself in her absence.

I found David very self-indulgent and a difficult character to like as he rambled though the book obsessed with his own existence. Some of the other characters such as Claire and Deborah added light to his character, but in the end were very externally drawn. The concluding chapters I felt gave David too easy a solution for his grief.

When I was reading the book it's a tough story to read and well-told, but I didn't really connect with it in any meaningful way. This would be a good holiday read and is not too challenging, the prose is good but ultimately I felt unsatisfied by where this book was going and where it tried to take the reader.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read it in advance.
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An exceptional, beautiful book. In the wake of his wife’s death, David returns to Aiguaclara where they went on holiday every year. Without her, he revisits his cold, loveless childhood and makes connections with some new people in his life. Beautifully written - I can’t wait for it to be published so I can recommend it to everybody!
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This book focuses on David’s grief after his wife of twenty years dies tragically. While spending time in their favourite Spanish holiday location, he analyses their life together and while Mary Rose appears to be the perfect wife, he finds himself wanting. David looks at his childhood and how he feels it shaped the man he became, as well as comparing this to Mary Rose’s loving family home. David and Mary never had children and after reflecting on their marriage, David realised how he lacked a real understanding of Mary Rose’s journey through childlessness. Towards the end of the book, David is thrown a second chance at happiness and also finds a realisation that there are different types of grief and different ways of dealing with it. 
This is a well written, gently novel with subtle humour. I also suspect it’s the type that stays with you long after the final page has been read.
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Marriage, death, grief and bereavement is what this book is all about, it is raw in places. A good book. Thank you to both NetGalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my review
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"I was neither dead nor alive but doomed to wander a desolate space between the two. There was me, and separated from me by a thick pane of glass was the world, where all kinds of things happened that I could see and hear but not feel."

     David has been widowed. His wife of 20 years, Mary Rose, has died tragically, and he has returned to their favourite destination, Aiguaclara, to attempt to make sense of the world in which he has been unexpectedly abandoned, "I can find nothing in her past- not a single thing- that could in anyway have prepared me for what the future had in store for her." 

     The novel is David's first person account of their relationship in which he dissects, with clinical detail, his feelings of inadequacy in the face of Mary Rose's positivity, adoration and certainty about the future they would share- a future that involved children, though sadly, this vision does not come to pass, "She was so certain of the future and what it would hold for us. I had only a vague anxiety that I did not share her certainties. The only thing I was ever certain about was Mary Rose."

     Macmahon writes with some beautiful descriptive detail- the kind that causes one to view the world a little differently afterwards. Amongst her observations are that of a dress "so luxuriously thin that it billowed behind her like smoke from a cigarette as she glided towards the edge of the terrace"; "stone steps that cupped in the middle from centuries of footfall" and also "the sense that we were forming our own rings on a tree trunk." 
     However, the use of first person failed to draw me to the main character and though I sympathised with his devastation and bewilderment, I did not find myself emotionally invested in his angst. At times, the minute details of their courtship and marriage felt arduous in their rose-tinged reflection and the narration lacked the balance of frustration experienced within a long-term companionship. Consequently, the reader does not get a rounded grasp of Mary Rose but instead a litany of regrets and longings that become monotonous.

     My thanks to netgalley and the publisher for sharing an advanced copy of the book with me in return for my honest opinion.
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I started reading this and couldn't quite get into it at first. I found David, the narrator, rather difficult to like at first, but then, at one point I suddenly 'got' him and it unlocked the book for me. David and Mary Rose have been married for twenty years when suddenly, she dies. David thought they had the perfect marriage, but in his grief for her he has to re-assess everything he thought he was sure of. David no longer has Mary Rose to navigate life for him or to shield him from himself. This is an intense study of grief and how it strips away the layers of the people left behind. It's beautifully written and I found myself absolutely fascinated by a man I was initially repelled by, which is so damn clever. I didn't want it to end.
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Kathleen writes beautifully and inhabits each character. The secondary characters are given as much care as the main, which lends the book realism
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I really found this book quite depressing. Its well written and hangs together but it wasn't for me. Struggled to finish it. However some of the themes were very personal to me and I imagine for otehr readers this might prove more entertaining and thought provoking.
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Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon is a novel about marriage, bereavement, what it means not to have children.
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