Monday 28 October 2019

Father William’s Daughter - Fiorella De Maria

Father William’s Daughter
Fiorella De Maria
Allied Publications
Progress Press Co. Ltd.
ISBN 9789990931082

This was the eighth book by Fiorella de Maria that I have read over the last few months. Her non-fiction is excellent. And her novels have all been page turners. This was the second novel she published, and to be honest if one of my favorites. It is currently out of print and hard to track down, but so worth the effort. Fiorella is a master wordsmith! Her stories are compelling, and addictive. I have one more to go to read all currently published, and already plan to circle back and reread them again. One of the great strengths of her books are the characters. They are incredibly well written. And with this being her second novel it is even more impressive. Another factor is the pull of Malta, and the sense of Maltese heritage often found in one or more character in her books. And finally, the plots, for the most part the stories could not be more different and yet they all have plots that draw a reader in and keep them turning the pages.

In this story we have Francesca Saliba. She is orphaned when her father dies in a car accident, and her mother had passed away a few years earlier from cancer. Within days of her father’s death she is whisked away from her beloved Malta to England, and deposited on the steps of Father William’s rectory, he is her uncle and now her legal guardian. Father William Arrowsmith at first things his being a guardian is one of the worst ideals ever, especially since his mother has just moved in with him. But soon he grows to depend upon and cherish his time with Francesca. Most chapters are written in two parts. The first is the story being told by Francesca in first person narrative. The second is called ‘The events Fr Arrowsmith would have included in his memories had he ever had the time to write them. (x)’ Where x is a number between 1 and 15. There are 18 numbered chapters and a final section called ‘Last Things’. Francesca is a scared girl. Form losing both her parents, losing her home, and even losing her nationality, at least legally. She is prone to overreacting, losing her temper, and being as stubborn as a mule. But she is also extremely passionate, caring and devoted. She is smart beyond her years, and it gets her in trouble as often as not. And she is a gifted musician. 

Francesca was refugee who was forced to start a new life. But there were pieces of her old life she could not forget and could not leave alone. Eventually the two return to Malta to confront the demons from her past. But the danger that chased her from the country 10 years earlier, returns with a vengeance. 

It is the story of family, a story about friendship, and the story of loyalty and courage. It was an incredibly hard book to put down. I read most of it on a long car ride, even reading late into the dusk and squinting at the pages because I could not put it down. While reading this book, I could see a train wreck coming. The story kept building and building. But I could never have guessed the ending.

A fantastic read by a gifted writer. If you can lay you hands on it, do give it a read. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan

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