The Good Child
By S. C. Karakaltsas
Published November 2021
In what should be her golden years, Lucille finds herself penniless and shunned by her friends and neighbors, on her way to support her irresponsible son as he faces trial. She blames herself. For overlooking Tom’s faults. For being too lenient. For ignoring her grandmother’s curse that her life would turn out horribly if she married her husband. At the time, she thought her grandmother’s warning foolish, but her life certainly hasn’t turned out like she wanted it to. And her greatest trial is still ahead of her – possibly watching her go to jail for swindling an untold number of people out of their life savings. Although she knows she may be partially to blame, she still can’t help but defend her son. And who’s to say he did what he’s accused of?
Quin knows exactly what Tom did, since she helped him do it. She even served time for it. When she boards the same train as Lucille, it’s not to support Tom, but to see him get his just desserts.
With no idea why the other is traveling to Melbourne, the two women see something positive in each other and strike up a friendship during the long train ride. By the end of the trial, they will each have had to not only face their pasts and their roles in Tom’s deception, but also learn how to move forward with their lives.
The majority of this novel was spent in flashback chapters, interspersed with the train journey and trial, alternating between Lucille and Quin’s points of view.
Quin’s chapters showed her climb at the Building Society, rising quickly from a loan manager to one of Tom’s most trusted executives. The societal attitude of easy money and credit during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which ultimately led to an economic collapse, was brilliantly captured. Quin’s story was on point and poignant – from trying to help her family to losing everything. As a reader, I felt for her and wanted to see Tom brought to justice on her behalf.
Lucille’s chapters flashed back much further – to the late 1930s – and they lost me a bit. I was 70% through the book and Tom hadn’t even been born, but I’d learned everything about her early marriage, her lost babies, and her life during WWII. By that point, I found myself wondering when the author would get to the relevant points of her life, but she never really did. Lucille’s relationship with Tom was skimmed over and I wasn’t fond of the young Lucille. She was bitter and unpleasant, which was understandable given how difficult her life turned out, but I couldn’t reconcile her with the older Lucille, who was much more likable. I would have preferred for the author to spend more time on Lucille and Tom’s relationship – since by focusing so much before Tom was born, he remained an obscure character. Almost a caricature of the greedy capitalist. I would have preferred if I could have understood him more through Lucille’s eyes.
That said, the book ended on a positive note – not just for Quin and Lucille individually, but in how they created something positive from their own troubles. I heard an interview the other day with someone who’d recently been through a trying time and the interviewer stated he should go forward and live his best life, using what he’d learned to do something positive. I feel like the characters in the book did this. They faced their past mistakes and not only learned from them, but combined their gifts to create their best future. The ending was really well done.
This was an ARC copy I received from BookSirens.
I rated this book a solid three stars.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
My rating system:
5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.
4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.
3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.
2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.
History tells us what people do; historical fiction helps us imagine how they felt.Guy Vanderhaeghe