What’s it all about?:
It’s the Great Depression and Mary Mabel McTavish is suicidal. A drudge at the Bentwhistle Academy for Young Ladies (aka Wealthy Juvenile Delinquents), she is at London General Hospital when little Timmy Beeford is carried into emergency and pronounced dead. He was electrocuted at an evangelical road show when the metal cross on top of the revival tent was struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands. Timmy promptly resurrects.
William Randolph Hearst gets wind of the story and soon the Miracle Maid is rocketing from the Canadian backwoods to ’30s Hollywood. Jack Warner, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Rockettes round out a cast of Ponzi promoters, Bolshevik hoboes, and double-dealing social climbers in a fast-paced tale that satirizes the religious right, media manipulation, celebrity, and greed.
What did I think?:
I honestly don’t quite know where to start with this review and I’ve spent some time mulling over the book since finishing it and am still none the wiser on how to get some coherent thoughts down to express the complexity of mixed feelings I have about this novel! The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish is a book that has been languishing on my Netgalley “to read” list for quite a long time now and as I’m making a concerted effort to improve my Netgalley ratio this year, I thought it was about time I read it. As soon as I reminded myself of the synopsis, I have to say I was excited. The Great Depression, 1930’s Hollywood and a normal girl who becomes an overnight sensation after bringing a young boy back to life after just putting her hands on him? Yes please, I’ll have some of that.
Allan Stratton, author of The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish.
Excuse me while I’m still formulating my thoughts. Okay, so this novel had so much promise and at times, was executed absolutely wonderfully, then there were other times where I felt the narrative dragged unnecessarily and that was a real shame. It divided me so much that at times I wanted to give it three stars, at times four stars, most of the time somewhere in between at three and a half stars and very occasionally, two stars. I struggle to recall a time in the recent past where a book has twisted my opinion this much and to be frank, I’m still attempting to work out why. There were so many positives – the plot which INSTANTLY made me want to read it, the wry humour and satire which did make me smile on multiple occasions and the way in which the author explored the idea of religion, society and morals, especially after an event as life-changing as The Great Depression.
The Great Depression, 1930’s America.
In fact, this novel got off to a terrific start, following our heroine Mary Mabel McTavish as she leads a humdrum slave-like existence with a distant and occasionally cold father and the reader feels her despair at life and misery over the loss of her mother and the blase attitude of her only other caregiver. Her attempted suicide is prevented at the last minute with a hallucination of her mother’s ghost and a feeling of power that she in turn, bestows on a young boy, Timmy Beeford, bringing him back to life and returning a slightly exasperating little human to his weary parents. This was all great and incredibly intriguing to read about. I think things went downhill for me when people start to capitalise on Mary’s powers and use her abominably in order to make money of their own. It was humorous at points sure, but there were times when I just wanted to shake Mary and open her eyes as to how she was being manipulated.
I think the two saving graces time and time again in this narrative were the owner of The Bentwhistle Academy For Young Ladies, Ms Bentwhistle who did make me howl with laughter at times, especially when she decides to pull the wool over the Americans’ eyes in pretending she’s one of the gentry. Obviously, she’s intended to be a shady, rather villainous character compared to our heroine but by the end of the novel, I just found her hilarious. Then there was our avid preacher, Brother Percy Brubacher who is incredibly odd (and a little scary!) but hugely fascinating and I would have liked to have seen more scenes with him and explore his back story in greater detail. Sadly, apart from these two, most of the other characters, even our female lead felt decidedly two-dimensional and unbelievable and this did affect my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.
Hope this review made some kind of sense – if I had to sum it up I would say interesting premise, a few brilliant characters and good use of humour but at times the characterisation and plot suffer from peaks and troughs. This unfortunately means that at times the story drags and becomes much less compelling.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish was the thirty-sixth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!