Shell House

My name is Rebecca Bandford, only it isn’t the name I was born with. I am a child killer. That is a reference to me that is true and unchanging. I don’t even know who I am. I know that I am a part of your society and I am a product of my circumstances and surroundings, but I am socially invisible, even though I am infamous. People become lost under their labels; wife, mother, father, sister… I am entrenched under mine.

I suppose I should have started by saying that as you read this I have no care whether you like me or not. I’m not telling you this story for any other reason than I want to expel it from myself. I am undecided about what I think of most of it and I have no regard for what you or anyone thinks of me either way. My name is Harry Rochester. My arrogance, when I began writing this, caused me to assume you knew who I was, seeing as you are, after all, reading it.

ShellHouse300dpi (1)Two separate diaries of two separate lives, both having experienced years filled with guilt, loneliness and isolation. Harry Rochester, an eighty-year-old retired Barrister, begins a diary about his life, in an attempt to make sense of his regrets and the abandonment of his daughter over forty years ago. As their lives run in parallel, Gabrielle also begins a diary about her own life, in order to make sense of her catastrophic actions and the bridges that were broken with her family many years ago. They make contact with one another, and try to entwine their stories in order to put the past behind them. But the unravelling of their separate lives reveals events and misunderstandings unknown to either of them.

Harry and Gabrielle desperately try and make up for all the lost years, with the threat of time running out on them both. Gayle Curtis, in a novel reminiscent of the great Thomas H. Cook, gives us two psychological portraits of a father and daughter caught up in their own guilt and emotional pain, trying to make sense of the actions and the circumstances that led to their lonely separation.

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