Finished March 11
The Runaway Wife by Rowan Coleman
This novel is told by Rose Pritchard, a woman who has fled her home in London to the remote Lake District village of Millthwaite, taking her young daughter Maddie with her. The reader only gradually discovers the reason why she fled, learning each piece of information a shred at a time until the true story of the domestic abuse Rose suffered is laid bare. The reader does know early on that she fled due to something her husband did, but the true extent of the abuse is not made clear until near the end.
Rose has come to this village because of an encounter years earlier when she was pregnant with Maddie, when a young man searching for information on Rose's father, a painter, treated her with kindness and respect and connected with her in a way that Rose found meaningful and enduring. The village is his only clue to where he might be, but her flight to the village also finds another figure from her past, the father who left her and her mother when she was nine, and who has not contacted her since.
The troubled relationship with the man she once adored is something she wasn't looking to revisit and doesn't know if she can stomach at this point in her life, but the presence of Maddie and Maddie's own eccentric nature bring both Rose and her father to make the effort.
Rose's lack of a normal adolescence has her experimenting with love in ways not always well thought out, but this experimentation and the support of her best friend increase her confidence to the point that she is ready to face her husband and deal with the situation as she needs to to move forward.
At times, this novel seems light, but there is a real respect for the complexity of domestic abuse and how women get caught up in this destructive dynamic.