Mother Island, by Bethan Roberts

Mother Island, by Bethan Roberts

Mother Island, by Bethan Roberts

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Brighton-based Roberts had a hit on her hands with My Policeman.

Brighton-based Roberts had a hit on her hands with My Policeman; it was chosen for City Reads a few years ago. I suspect this new book will be huge success, too.

It pulls on the fear of all parents: your child goes missing. Could there be anything worse? Well, actually, yes. Someone else’s child that you are entrusted with goes missing.

I speak from experience here - about when my god-daughter, age three, went missing from her buggy in a supermarket that I was in charge of. My heart started to do a samba in my chest and I started screaming. Luckily, she was found in the chocolate aisle five minutes later. But it was, unquestionably, the worst five minutes of my life.

So, when Nula comes home and finds that her son is missing, she tries to call Maggie - her cousin and childminder - to find out where they are. The two cousins have a tangled history - and we follow both strands of the story and delve into their backgrounds and family life to see how this happened.

There is a wonderful sense of place in the book. The Island referred to in the title is a magical place that resonates for both women in different ways. Their lives are bound together by the love they have for one little boy.

This is a gripping read and a perfect page-turner of a book that manages to combine tension with nuances and shades of family life with great aplomb.