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Summary

This is the story of Ian - husband, father, and Mormon bishop - and his unshakeable belief.

It is the story of his wife Claire's lonely wait for a sign from God.

And it is the story of seven-year-old Jacob. His faith is bigger than a mustard seed, probably bigger than a toffee bonbon, and he's planning to use it to mend his family with a miracle.

©2014 Carys Bray (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"A brilliant debut, compelling and profoundly moving" (Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall)
"Carys Bray is a strikingly original new voice in fiction. I loved this tender, moving, funny and deeply truthful story about a family and a faith tested to breaking-point." (Helen Dunmore)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DebB
  • Oxfordshire, England
  • 09-09-14

Well written and narrated, but a sad book

This is well written, at times painful to read/listen to, not favourable to organised religion, and certainly not a happy book that generates smiles, or good feelings. It’s about a family struggling to carry on when it’s broken, and the end is ambiguous, leaving the final denouement for you the reader to decide. So be aware, if you hate that sort of thing this isn't for you.

This is a book about a family dealing, or completely failing to deal, with catastrophe. It is also a book about faith - both in God and in the tenets of one’s chosen religion.

The religion here is Mormonism - father Ian was born and raised in the faith, while mother Claire converted in order to marry Ian.

Claire has qualms about the religion even before the catastrophe, but it is her faith in God that’s tested afterwards. Her reaction is extreme, very, and while she had my sympathies, the fall out from her reaction impacted very negatively on her family, so my sympathy waned somewhat as time passed.
Ian faith is seemingly total - he relies on the well worn-sop that “it’s God’s will”, to make everything alright, and he absolutely cannot fathom Claire’s reaction to events.
Their children also struggle to fit what happens and their reaction to it into their faith, but the most poignant is little Joseph. He believes with the unquestioning totality of a young child, so when he’s told miracles happen if you pray, he believes he can achieve his own miracle. His scenes were the most painful and difficult for me to listen to - he places his trust in his parents, his church, his God, and in various ways, they all let him down.

The book presents organised religion in a poor light - probably intentionally. When one character prays for forgiveness for allowing a boy to kiss her chest (not her breasts, just her chest) she also prays for his forgiveness as it had been “her fault” for allowing him to glimpse said chest. There are many examples that had the non-believing, feminist me huffing in outrage! Suffice to say, I did not emerge from this book thinking warm fuzzy thoughts about Mormonism!

Beautifully narrated with all characters having their own “voice”, and that, combined with the desire to know what happens to this family, was enough to keep me listening when the endless gloom all got a bit much. Oh, and I didn’t like the ending!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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dog walker and avid audio book listener

A truly unique book. thought povoking and powerful. One of my most memorable listens and superbly read by Emma Gregory. I'm hoping the second book by Carys Bray will soon be available on Audible.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't be bothered to finish it

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Too weird. Was on hols, had all time in world but it just didn't engage me.

Has A Song for Issy Bradley put you off other books in this genre?

Bit

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Emma Gregory?

Less droning voice!

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not really!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A song for Issy Bradley

I really enjoyed this story. I liked moving through from the perspective of all the family and how those were interwoven to show misunderstanding and aloneness within a family where they might have been pulling together. It was an insight into the Mormon faith. I was left wanting some idea of how things were to move forward and so found the ending a bit disappointing there were one or two issues left open. Beautifully and cleverly read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved this book

I was into this book in the first chapter. In my opinion Carys Bray is a brilliant writer. The subject is very interesting, and gives us a moving account of a Mormon family and the community they live in. I found myself really worrying about the main characters. There are parts that are unbearably sad, but Carys Bray manages to keep a light touch with her utterly believable dialogue. Well done, I look forward to her next book. I thought the narrator was excellent too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dull, boring and slow

Let me start by saying the narration is fine. The accents and different voices are good and Anna did a spot on job with what she had to work from. But...
I like to say as little as possible about plots of books because I myself prefer to go in as blind as I can. So all I'll say is that this Mormon family struggles to come to terms with what's happened to them and I struggled to keep my interest in their story.
The story itself could've been so much more. The beginning was good and I thought I was on to a winner. I also loved Jacob and his take on the world around him.
However, we don't spend anywhere near enough time with him to make up for his narrow minded father, who is so blindly dedicated to his church that it struck me as bordering on fanaticism.
Most of the other characters seem blinded by their belief system as well and extremely out of touch with the world in which we currently live. It felt way too contrived in parts and I didn't buy into it.
Maybe I'm too much of an agnostic to understand that kind of behaviour. On the other hand, I've read a few reviews from people who say they're Mormon and they dispute a lot of what's portrayed in the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning

A simply stunning book about grief, faith and above all, family. Very profound & extremely well written. I'm looking forward to more from this author

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joanne
  • Clavering, United Kingdom
  • 14-05-15

Simply wonderful.

Heartbreaking and utterly absorbing. I am bereft that it has ended. I had no idea what to expect so this totally took me by surprise.

Hard act to follow!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful