Saturday, 9 May 2015

Guest Book Review: Judy Finnigan - I Do Not Sleep

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep. 

There is nothing more powerful than a mother's love

Five years ago, Molly Gabriel lost her twenty-year-old son, Joey, to a terrible sailing accident. His empty boat was washed ashore on the rocks - but his body was never found. 

Now, Molly has returned to the sands of Cornwall haunted by his disappearance, unable to accept he is gone. Joey was an experienced sailor and died on a calm sea - things just don't add up and Molly cannot let it go. Desperate for answers, she turns to Joey's best friend, Ben, to go back to what really happened that day...

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardcover 

I Do Not Sleep is the second release from Judy Finnigan. I really enjoyed her first book Eloise, it was haunting and atmospheric and not what I had expected and totally different from the books her husband Richard writes. Their book club selections are always interesting and varied so I was intent on reading this second novel. Again set in Cornwall I Do Not Sleep is a story of a mother's quest for answers. She needs the truth in order to move on with her life as she is trapped reliving over and over again what could have been. Cornwall is an apt setting for this book as the rugged coastline and stunning scenery and the sea and the weather play such an important role in this book. Like the recent release by Liz Fenwick Judy obviously loves Cornwall and this deep connection to the area comes through in this emotional and sensitive story.

The cover of this book is simply stunning - beautiful with an almost mythical like quality. You sense the woman on the cover is standing there pondering something. It's like she is unaware of where she is and has almost forgotten the young boy playing at her feet. So much intrigue aroused from just the cover I dove in with high expectations and began this vivid, intense, thought provoking book. In the very beginning there is a brief history of Lammana island so I knew this would play a crucial role as the story unfolded. We meet Molly Gabriel and husband Adam alongside their son Daniel, daughter-in-law Lola and granddaughter Edie as they return for a family holiday to Cornwall after an absence of five years. Not since the disappearance of their son Joey at sea have the family dared to venture back to an area which always had a special place in their hearts. Molly has been adrift for the past five years and the family hope coming back will help her come to terms with the greatest loss any mother can experience. Molly is clearly deeply unhappy. Her agony, hurt and overwhelming sadness just jumps off the pages. This accident has left a shadow of depression hanging over the family. Molly cannot recover from what has happened and what mother could after going through sometime so tragic and with no body to mourn or bury. Finally she has realised she must look to the people and places of Cornwall to find the answers she believes are out there. Answers which will help give her peace and heal her wounded soul.

Molly puts all thoughts of her family aside as she experiences dreams in which she believes Joey is calling to her urging her on to find him and discover the truth. Her husband poor Adam felt totally isolated and pushed away and blamed himself for Joey's death. He surely needed as much support and reassurance as possible from Molly as she would have done the same for him. But Molly moves out into a cottage of her own to come to terms with what she is experiencing. To be honest I thought why do this? Why abandon your family who are trying to help you to chase something that may or may not be real? Along the way several other characters are introduced such as Josie and her daughter Hope (their storyline really worked well alongside Molly's experiences) and Charmer Len. I had never heard of charmers before and initially I did think this was unusual and a bit over the top. But in the end the I could see how important Len was to the overall story. As Molly journeys through her emotions and begins to unravel the true tale the Cornish setting was really brought to life. From Jamaica Inn to the windswept beaches, the Cornish streets to Lammana island everything begins come together piece by piece.

This novel is all about reconciling the past with the present and Molly's journey to do this was really well written with powerful descriptive passages throughout. The chapters were short and snappy and kept the pace of the book moving forward – at first. Midway through I thought this is getting a bit too doom and gloom for me and some of the things Molly experiences beggared belief. As one character says 'I am a man of science' and I would say the same for me but I knew the author used all these tactics to enhance the story. I just felt the middle part was dragged out a bit too much. Therefore the ending came very quickly and after so much detailed insight into Molly's journey a little more padding out towards the end would have helped.

Some people may find elements of this book too wishy washy as such for their tastes but put that aside like I did as you will discover a basic good storyline. The gothic, supernatural elements are nicely balanced with concrete facts and developments in the storyline. If a little long at times in the mid section I was happy with the ending as if it had gone the other way I would have felt I had wasted my time reading the book. A story which deals with loss and heartache and how we can overcome this if we are strong enough. It also shows us how a mother's intuition can never be wrong and instinct must always be trusted. I don't think this is a book perfect for the poolside on a sun holiday but best read in the comfort of your own home or if you are lucky enough in the setting of the book itself. This was a fairly good offering from Judy Finnegan but there is definitely more to come as I believe her best book is still waiting to be written.

I'd like to thank Emma for her fantastic review of this eBook which she received from the publisher via NetGalley.


  1. Great review, very well phrased!

  2. Thanks for this fantastic review. Tonight I am going to listen to Judy Finnigan's presentation about her book at Plymouth University within the activities of Plymouth International Book Festival ;)