Paper Chains: A Novel
“Despite the seriousness of much of the content that the book hints at, this is a quick read for the last days of summer.”
Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty, a young Australian author, with several novels published, tackles a controversial subject in her latest book: post-partum depression.
Paper Chains, despite its subject matter, is a well told tale of two young women who serendipitously meet in a jewelry shop in London, England. They soon discover they are Australians abroad, one from Sydney, the other Perth. India, from Perth, is bombastic, almost frenetically upbeat and energetic, while Hannah is reserved with a hang-dog affect. She rarely lifts her head other than to talk briefly with someone. She is a long-distance runner who is trying to outrun her guilt and shame.
“She turned off the shower and stepped carefully out of the tub and immediately thought, Why are you being so careful? You deserve to slip and fall. If you were to crack your skull open on the edge of the bath, you would watch your blood seep down the drain as you take your last breath. She asked herself what would she would do on her day off, inevitably she would do what she always did. She would run. She would punish her body with a grueling jog through the park. And she wouldn’t stop for lunch.”
India is immediately convinced that Hannah hides a dark secret. When pressed Hannah dodges questions about her past. She is saved from suicide by India, who insists she return to Sydney. India is also haunted, but by her inability to commit to a relationship with the man she loves.
Any other plot details will involve spoilers. As you read the novel, you make take pleasure in guessing how the author is tying all the pieces together, perhaps too neatly. The characters and their stories are treated with a Hollywood romantic drama and glow.
“And then the officiant let out a sob and everyone laughed. Through gushing tears the officiant told them to kiss and Simon actually spun her a round and dipped her for the kiss, just like in one of those old black-and-white romance movies and everyone whooped and cheered.”
Despite the seriousness of much of the content that the book hints at, this is a quick read for the last days of summer. Well known medical conditions, both psychological and physical, are treated in a cursory fashion, and do not do much more than develop the plot.
There are some compelling moments in the novel though and vivid imagery. It is a page turner. Moriarty knows her audience, and her audience knows her.