Bev Thomas's debut novel A Good Enough Mother. There's so much suggestion in those tulips....
Thomas herself was a clinical psychologist for many years. She has taken that expertise and parlayed it into the story of Ruth Hartland - a psychotherapist also with many years experience. Ruth's son Tom has been missing for over two years. A young patient named Dan is assigned to Ruth at the clinic she works at. He bears more than a passing resemblance to Tom - and this fact clouds Ruth's judgement. She makes some decisions that affect many lives, including her own.
The book is told from Ruth's point of view. The events have happened and are slowly relayed to the reader. Thomas throws in lots of foreshadowing that keeps the reader guessing as to the outcome.
A Good Enough Mother is a slow burn, exploring relationships of many kinds. Mother and child. The parenting of Ruth's son Tom and daughter Carolyn is very different. I found Ruth's determined push to make Tom 'fit in' very uncomfortable. Even though she is a therapist, Ruth can't seem to take the advice she would give a client. Her marriage also falls victim to this push.
Ruth works in a specific type of clinic and there is much detail given on 'the work', as the therapy is referred to. Interesting as it was in the beginning, I began to feel a bit bogged down as the book progressed. But I did wonder about a therapist's own life. How do they keep the two separate? What did fascinate me was the back and forth between Ruth and Dan during the sessions. There is danger there, but Ruth seems unable or unwilling to see it.
"There was nothing to hint at his capacity for violence. Nothing at all to suggest what he was capable of. It took awhile to understand that the question wasn't Why didn't I see it coming? but Why didn't I move out of the way?
Those looking for an intricate puzzle and mix of family dynamics and psychotherapy will find it in A Good Enough Mother. I do think the suspense/thriller tag the publisher has used in their description of the book is a bit of a stretch. But Thomas is a talented wordsmith - I will be curious to see what she pens next. Read an excerpt of A Good Enough Mother.