Postcards From A Stranger by Imogen Clark
Postcards From A Stranger is a beautifully written novel about parent/child relationships. It follows the story of Cara a thirty year old woman who cares for her severely ill father with Alzheimer’s disease in their family home in Yorkshire. Her world is upended when she discovers a mysterious secret kept hidden in their attic for years, a room where she and her older brother, Michael were forbidden to go as youngsters.
The story has a simple but powerful premise, one that appeals to the reader’s sense of empathy. It certainly made me take stock and think about the extent of the struggle and helplessness I would feel if I were in Cara’s situation; that of caring for an utterly dependent parent whilst discovering hard truths, kept buried beneath well-meaning lies, about the other.
I particularly enjoyed reading the gradual unfolding of the story; such well executed pacing allowed for in depth development of the characters. Conversely, there were occasions where the pacing was reduced to a crawl, albeit rarely. Examples of this include most of the exchanges involving Beth, whose character was interesting and relevant, but one who I happily could have read less about.
The style of writing constantly changes throughout the story in tandem with the reoccuring time jumps. This modulated the story and thus kept it engaging. At times, we’re in the moment with Cara as she tries to make sense of her thoughts as though she was delivering a monologue in a play. At other times, we’ve been transported back to to third person exposition, where we learn the truth about Cara’s parents as they slowly come to a head.
Postcards From A Stranger has a very traditionalist tone in terms of the way it depicts family and this serves to make the truth about Cara’s mother all the more shocking. I found this story to be deeply compeling and cognizant of human relationships. The ending was bit fluffy for my tastes, but not so sunshine, lollipops and rainbows as to be not believable. Overall, the book conveyed a tone of seriousness that was penetrating and relatable. For that reason, I rate Postcards From A Stranger..
Imogen Clark originally wrote this book in 2017 going on to self-publish it on Amazon where it became an instant hit in both the UK and Australia. The editorial edition was released the following year by Lake Union Publishing, Seattle.