Cover Image: The Girl in the Maze

The Girl in the Maze

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Member Reviews

TW: CSA
I had to take a few days to collect my thoughts about this book, because I have very complex feelings about it. 
1) The story is compelling, but I kept reading because it made me furious
2) The story is predictable- I knew the incest plot was going to happen maybe 15% into the book.
I believe stories where sexual abuse is the crux of the conflict can be powerful, but it felt like it wasn't dealt with through a modern eye.  
I also disagree with the final choice of Emma to not tell her half-sister about her parentage, especially considering her sister has intent to keep on looking for her father. I think everyone is entitled to know about their history, and that no matter how dark, you can move on from that. It's important context to your relationship with your family, and something you could address in therapy. 
I would not recommend this book to a survivor of sexual abuse because although it shows the wide-ranging impact it can have on one's life, it essentially ruined Margaret's life and her relationship with her children, and shows a very bleak future for survivors (although maybe this was the message, that you need to deal with your problems to fix them?). The rape scenes from the step-father's view were gratuitous and unnecessary. Maybe I was just triggered by this book and it wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be, but truly I am tired of this trope in literature and the lack of nuance it is dealt with.
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The Girl in the Maze is a tale of three generations of a family, focusing primarily on the lives of the women: Betty, Margaret and Emma.
When Emma's estranged mother dies and she begins to clear her house, a journey of discovery is set in motion as she begins to unpick the threads of a troubled past. Why did her mother, Margaret, barely acknowledge Emma's daughter, Libby, but leave her the house, why did their own relationship deteriorate, and what about the painting of The Girl in the Maze, left to a stranger in the will? 
 
I was drawn into the story quickly, and then I found it difficult to put down, as I was immersed in the lives of the characters, although I would have to add that some chapters are incredibly difficult to read. This is because of the subject matter and the disturbing themes it explores.

The Girl in the Maze is an assured debut that gets right to the heart of a family and its dark secrets. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Agora for the opportunity to read this advanced copy.
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Some mother daughter relationships are fraught with so many roadblocks. Emma had rarely spoken to her mother over 
the last couple of years because it invariably became tense, rude and unforgivable things were said. The fact that
her mother was a difficult woman was acknowledged by many, but her mother's animosity towards Emma's second child,
her daughter Libby was unforgivable.

When her mother died, and Emma was left to clear her house and stuff, her will was enough in itself to be upsetting.
She had changed her will one day before she died, leaving the flat to Libby - the grand daughter whom she refused to
be courteous to during her life, and on further delving into papers and journals Emma discovers an entire new life
her mother had. Something totally unknown, disturbing, and in hindsight accountable for her mother's distorted way of
living her life.

The story was alarming, very tense, very emotional, disturbing but an excellent read of hidden elements in a person's
life and how eventually they do surface - intentionally or unintentionally. Some things seem like fate, some things
should be left buried but are somehow dug up and then you cant put it back in the box neatly. It disrupts everything
from that moment on. I did not feel that the facts that were buried, but were deliberately opened helped to bring about
peace and happiness at least not very much. 

The story is unusual. Disturbing but unusual.
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"The Girl in the Maze" revolves around the different generations of a family and its secrets. While the focus is on the women of the family and their relationship to each other, the reader gets to know some male perspective as well, leading to a triggering and traumatic experience that infects every relationship in the family like a virus. Said experience is told from the perpetrator's perspective, so if you think you might be triggered by something like that, you should overthink reading this book. For me personally, some scenes were too sensitive and hindered me in reading on.
However, the writing is good, drawing you in and making you want to read more. I really liked the leaps in time, changing perspectives between the several women in the family - presenting all of them at the same age, thus making it possible to compare their circumstances. 
The Girl in the Maze - the book's title - is a painting which is central to the story. If you like intricate family dramas with dark secrets, then you should give this book a try. However, be ready for some traumatizing events - I sure wasn't and I feel as if it could have been portrayed differently.
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For her stunning debut novel, Cathy Hayward invites us to look into motherhood and the complexities of family relationships in her women fiction's The Girl in the Maze.

Emma Bowen was never close with her mother. But just after her death, she discovers letters that would explain her family's hidden truths and more. With an enigmatic and haunting multi-layered narrative, Hayward draws the touching stories of 3 generations of women: Betty, Margaret, and Emma.

Cathy Hayward's writing style is lyrical, sometimes promising, and sometimes brutal. She beautifully crafts the intricacies of each character and the many layers that compose this powerful story. The author explores delicate subjects such as sexual assaults, rape, miscarriages, abortions, death, and loss.

The Girl in the Maze rethinks the essence of motherhood and how we come over generational trauma. I was absorbed by this novel and could not put it down.
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“I would caution you against investigating, against delving into the past. The past  Is often best left exactly where it is.”

This does not deter Emma from looking into her deceased Mothers past.   Emma and her mom have had been estranged for the past few years when her mom passed…. While cleaning out her apartment Emma finds past secrets and want to uncover truths, even though the people in her life and her mother’s are  telling to leave it alone.  

This book is written in the present and past in alternating chapters.  
While this tackles not so pleasant subject content, the author did a fantastic job in this her debut novel.  She will forever be on my
TBR list?
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4.5* Wow, The Girl in the Maze is hauntingly gut wrenching. It will stay with you long after you finish that last sentence.  Powerful.  Thought provoking. Intense.  Heavy.  Wonderful writing.  I cant wait to read more by this author.  

Thanks so much to NetGalley for the early opportunity to read this one.
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This was a hard read from the very first page. I almost didn’t want to finish it, but I’m glad I did. It gets less rough up until about halfway through. I don’t know if books can be published with a trigger warning but if they could, this on definitely needs it. I would hate to give away any of the plot points but my goodness, it was hard. 

Overall it was a well written book. It doesn’t have a satisfying ending that one would hope, but life rarely does.
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In the author’s note, Hayward explains how the grief of losing her parents inspired her debut novel. This might explain the extraordinary vividness and vitality of the narrative, which jumps back and forth between the near and distant past. 

Graphic portrayals of abortion and abuse make this a challenging read at times, and yet there is an enormous amount of compassion and tenderness which shines through. The main character, Emma, is a mother of three, having adopted a third child, Tommy, with Down’s syndrome. When her estranged mother dies, she's left to piece together her complicated and confusing legacy. The eponymous "girl in the maze" is the troubled subject of a portrait making up part of Emma’s mother's estate, who comes to symbolise the oppression suffered by women through the ages. 

Emma is determined to uncover her family secrets, despite warnings from her mother’s solicitor, Mr Graham Eals (who somehow reminds me of a character from the Woman in Black). What she discovers is a host of horrifying events lurking in her family's past, as well as one very pleasant surprise. The characters all have a good amount of depth, and Betty (Emma’s grandmother) is especially memorable.

Thank you, Agora Books for the opportunity to read this impressive debut novel.
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The Girl in the Maze is a masterfully written tale of four generations of mothers. I found it hitting close to home many times as the story created these haunting spiderwebs between the motherhood, the roles women historically played in motherhood, societal expectations, and what we find ourselves searching for in a mother as daughters. It examines generational trauma and abuse, torn and strained attachments, and finds the beauty in healing the broken parts of oneself throughout the story. I found this to be an interesting and compelling novel that I would deeply recommend.
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Although this book contained some triggering elements that personally I could have found quite distressing I really enjoyed this book.  The writing is good the characters are well developed and I felt so lany emotions whilst reading it. The front cover is stunning also.
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Cathy Hayward’s “The Girl in the Maze” is an absolutely stirring debut novel. It can be a challenge for writers to accurately convey the complexity of each character’s emotions, especially when the character is not present in the scene, but Hayward has mastered the art of doing so. There are so many layers to the women and young girls in “The Girl in the Maze” but each layer stays loyal to the other. Layers become torn and taped half haphazardly back together, but when the time for questions comes, it is often too late. 

This book was absolutely phenomenal and I wish the whole world could read it. 

I want to thank netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
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With grateful thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest opinion.  
Quite a spectacular  book in many ways a very delicate  subject and each of us has our own interpretation, I found this book extremely  harrowing  to read not a subject  I would normally  read about.
A very good book  which has been well thought out and exacuted  extremely well.
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I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read this book. I found this book just ok, it was interesting but very similar to several other books out now.
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There is a lot of books out there currently about mothers,and it's no surprise.
It's a complicated relationship between mother and child.
As Emma clears out her mother's property after her death,she discovers things that she never knew.
I got completely pulled in by this one,the strained relationships,and current family dynamics and all.
A very enjoyable read
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The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward was an okay read for me; it was about a strained relationship with a mother. I had a hard time getting absorbed in this, but overall it was a nice read.
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The Girl In the Maze by Cathy Hayward
Rating: 4/5

Summary: Emma had a strained relationship with her mother ever since she was young. It all used to be great until one day in which it all change. Since then her relationship with her mother has been different. Now her mother has passed and one single birth certificate she discovers while cleaning out her deceased mother's house, unravels a mystery that she wasn't even aware existed. 

Rating: This book is a hard read once you start to piece the story together. It's hard because it deals with sexual assault and the loss of children. It's hard because Cathy makes you feel connected to the characters, even though many of them have now passed or don't appear much in the story. 

This book was a great read, it was hard but it was great. I couldn't put the book down, i needed more and just when I thought I had an answer Hayward completely blindsighted me with more information. It was a long book but it didn't feel long, i read it in 5 hours because I couldn't put it down.

The reason why I gave this book 4/5 is not because there was something wrong with the book, it's just that the heavy topics it had put me off a bit because it was hard to read. Also because even though I couldn't put this book down, there were some parts that read slow for me. But that's just me I've never been one for these kinds of books. I'm more of a quick paced fun read. Other then that it was a good book and i enjoyed reading it 

TWs: Rape, Miscarriages, Abortions, death of parents
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