More Than Sorrow Paperback – Sep 4 2012
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"In a change of pace from her Con. Molly Smith mysteries (Among the Departed), Delany has written a splendid Gothic thriller with a theme of strong women throughout history. Readers will be captivated by the haunted root cellar and how Delany contrasted one woman’s struggles in the past with the plight of contemporary refugees. Match with Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern or Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane."--Library Journal
"An absorbing whodunit-cum-flashbacks whose so-so mystery is redeemed by a deft use of historical parallels." --Kirkus Reviews
“Her exceptional ability to create characters, both realistic and sometimes creepy, makes this another terrific addition to her outstanding body of work.”—Library Journal Starred review for Among the Departed
About the Author
Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki Delaney is settling down into the rural life in bucolic Prince Edward County, Ontario.
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Top Customer Reviews
Journalist Hannah Storm is recovering of head injuries resulting from and IED attack in Afghanistan. She is staying in the old home of her sister and her family whose neighbors are housing Hila, an Afghani woman also severely injured by the war with whom she develops a quiet friendship. Visits to the farm’s root cellar have Hannah discovering more than vegetables; blackouts results in visions of a woman living during the American Revolution. When Hila is discovered murdered, Hannah must deal with her own recovery while trying to uncover the link between the death and the visions.
Ms. Delaney’s book begins with an excellent opening chapter that captures your attention and compels you to read more. She provides evocative descriptions of places and gives you an insight into the background of the protagonist. She also establishes a wonderful sense of the creepy fairly early in the story which, unfortunately, becomes a bit lost along the way.
There are basically three threads to the story; Hannah’s recovery, the possible haunting and the murder. While each is interesting, the weaving of them isn’t necessarily as tight as one might like to the point where I found sections a little dull. I did appreciate the perspective of seeing the life of a Loyalist wife during the Revolutionary War. However, although having an understanding of her life was critical to the story’s climax, it didn’t enhance the suspense of the story. The same could also be said of Hila’s character.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With her inability to pitch in with the chores and the pampering by her sister and niece, she doesn't endear herself to the man of the house, who sees her as a drain on their resources. Farming is a precarious life, and an extra burden isn't appreciated. To help her pass the time, he allows Hannah grudging access to old family papers in the attic. His forebears were Loyalists, British who fled the American Revolution to come to Upper Canada for a new life.
Able to take short walks, Hannah is surprised to find a shy Afghan refugee nearby as a guest of a middle-aged couple, the Harrisons, who have an interest in the history and culture of the Middle East. Hila, a traumatized burn victim, was the only survivor in a murderous attack on her family. The farm community seems a safe place for both kindred souls. Hila and Hannah form a mutual bond from their ordeals.
As Hannah pores over the old records, another story emerges from the distant past, woven seamlessly into a nail-biting time-shifting duet. Maggie and Hamish Macgregor and their daughter had a peaceful life in the Mohawk Valley until the American Revolution set neighbour against neighbour. Hamish leaves to fight with the British forces, while his family faces the stigma of being enemies in their own land:
Maggie's father was a member of the Colonial Assembly. A constant stream of men passed through their house, and all the talk was about raising an army to fight the forces of the English King. The Americans, Maggie's mother explained, had declared their independence from Britain and they would have to fight to keep it. "There is no more King," she explained. "All men are now equal." "Women too?" "Don't be foolish."
The once wealthy Maggie, shunned by her own parents, flees north across the border to an unknown future. As Hannah plummets into poverty, she guards with her life her only treasure, a pair of diamond earrings.
Hannah's headaches take a nasty turn when she goes to the old root cellar where the produce is stored. Imagining a woman in the dank mist, she loses consciousness and hours pass before she is discovered. A murder in the neighbourhood has rocked the community, and she is suspect number one. Did a flashback made her perceive the victim as a threat?
Delany embroiders several themes, paralleling the Loyalist refugees with today's displaced people. Canada prides itself on its multi-culturalism and tolerance, but for some, the gates have been opened too wide. Many ethnics born in Canada regard themselves as equal citizens, such as the Muslim neurologist who tries to help Hannah regain her confidence.
The placid and picturesque setting provides a contrasting backdrop for the horrors of modern wartime as well as the 18th century. Weapons may have changed, but torture, humiliation, and savagery will not disappear. The Loyalists paid a high price to find safe homes in Canada the same way that refugees now come here for a second chance at life.
A master at characterization, Delany thrusts rapiers of golden dialogue to reveal and enhance complex motivations. Especially poignant is Hannah's tender relationship to her young niece Lily and their faith in each other:
"That would be nice." I leaned on the girl as I struggled to my feet. I opened my left eye, just a crack, and looked into her face. Pretty and concerned. Immediately after breakfast she'd gone out to tend to her beloved horses, and hay was caught in the back of her blond braid, and a streak of mud crossed her left cheek. She was all knees and elbows, bony chest, long thin legs, arms like sticks, luscious black lashes, and a perpetually laughing mouth. I thought she was incredibly beautiful.
Pain, power, and redemption. You can't ask more than that. Although this novel appears to be a standalone, Hannah would make a strong and sensitive series character.
Wanting only a place to rest, Manning seeks refuge at the rural home of her sister and brother-in-law. Struggling to recover from cerebral damage caused by a bus explosion in war-torn Afghanistan, she'd like nothing better than to be left alone.
She soon discovers that the past has a way of asserting itself, and the troubles of far-away nations are seldom far away.
I loved this story, both for the beautifully crafted heroine, Hannah Manning, and for the depth of research Delany brought to bear in her presentation of Hila, the mysterious Afghani woman who shares Hannah's "place of refuge".
In short, I highly recommend More Than Sorrow to mystery-lovers.
Donna Carrick, author of The First Excellence
Hannah Manning is a former journalist and war correspondent. The victim of an IED explosion while covering the war in Afghanistan, she is still scarred, physically and mentally. Unable to concentrate, Hannah suffers from recurring headaches and visions of that terrible moment as she struggles to carve out a new life with her sister on a small farm in southern Ontario. Her sister Joanne and her husband Jake make a welcome refuge for Hannah, and she forms a close bond with her precocious niece, Lily. Still limited in what she can do, Hannah helps with such modest chores as feeding the chickens, gathering eggs, and fetching vegetables from the 18th-century root cellar. While visiting the cellar one day Hannah begins to hear voices and see visions; but curiously, they are not limited to her experiences in Afghanistan; some seem to date from the American Revolutionary War.
It almost seems like fate is taking a hand when Hannah and Lily visit a nearby farm and encounter Hila Polpalzi, a young woman from Afghanistan. Although she wears a tunic and scarf, the traditional clothing of her homeland, it does not fully conceal heavy scarring on her face and one hand. It is clear that she too is a victim of the war. Their visit is brief, shortened by Hila's shyness and Hannah's sudden headache, triggered by the disturbing image in front of her. Little does she realize that Hila's presence will trigger a series of events that puts all their lives in jeopardy, and that more than one person will die before the tensions have worked themselves out. And Hannah's visions will recur in a developing narrative that spans the centuries.
Vicki Delany has stepped up her game. In More Than Sorrow she paints a vivid portrait of a strong woman, severely limited by traumatic injuries, and attempting to regain her autonomy. Worthy in its own right, the story line is layered with events reaching back in time, and demonstrates Delany's ability to weave a complex and utterly original tale. There are enough twists and turns to satisfy the most demanding reader, and convincing portraits of people good and evil, thrown together in a compelling plot that will hold you until the final page.
Since 2005 Jim Napier's reviews and interviews have appeared in several Canadian newspapers and on several crime fiction websites around the world.