The past is also threatening to catch up with Marianne Thackeray, protagonist of Erin Kelly’s Stone Mothers. As a teenager in Suffolk, she allowed her then boyfriend, Jesse, to bully her into blackmail...
With some uncomfortable truths about class divisions and how we care for those with mental health issues, Stone Mothers is atmospheric and poignant.
Twisting back through time, Stone Mothers is the story of how a covered-up murder will never lie quietly and a terrifying indictment of how the mentally ill were once treated. “The Victorians used to call their mental hospitals stone mothers… They had such faith in architecture back then that they thought the design of the building could literally nurse the sick back to health,” says Marianne, now a respected academic. Kelly goes on to show just how wrong this was, providing a genuinely surprising twist that turns assumptions neatly on their heads.
Kelly got the balance right between compulsive story line and compelling ideas in He Said/She Said, but here the plot isn’t very suspenseful (or convincing) and seems too subordinate to such themes as changes in the treatment of mental illness across 50 years.