Laura Wilkinson is a Brighton-based author whose books include Public Battles Private Wars, Bloodmining, and The Rapture Series (as L.C. Wilkinson.) She grew up in Wales, which forms the backdrop to her latest novel, Redemption Song.
Londoner Saffron De Lacy drops out of medical school to join her mother, Rain, in a sleepy coastal town. After a bumpy start, an unlikely romance blooms with fellow outsider Joe Jones – forcing each to face their secrets, and overcome the past.
Wilkinson’s most fully-realised character to date, Saffron is edgy and brittle, with a barely-concealed vulnerability. As she cautiously lets down her guard, Joe grapples with his own demons. The contrast between Saffron and her bubbly, idealistic mother sheds light on family dynamics, while Rain’s parallel quest to rebuild her shattered life allows readers to bridge the generation gap.
As the title (named after a Bob Marley song) suggests, Redemption Song is about grief, guilt and the different ways in which we learn to forgive ourselves – and others. Betrayed by those he trusted most, Joe’s thirst for revenge threatens to destroy him. Saffron’s newfound happiness is shadowed by self-loathing, and her mother’s religious faith will be sorely tested.
The attractions and limitations of small-town life are evoked by supporting characters like Mrs Evans, who manages an antiquated department store; Ceri, her cheeky teenage daughter; elderly Mair Shawcroft; and laidback Eifion, a ‘jack of all trades.’ Their campaign to save a derelict ballroom on the local pier galvanises the community, and draws the lovers closer.
A modern romance with real heart, and its feet firmly on the ground, Redemption Song also explores problems of loss and mortality. Laura Wilkinson‘s prose is typically direct and unshowy, achieving a transformative beauty when loneliness turns to love.
Redemption Song is published by Accent Press and is available now in paperback and via Kindle.