I would like to start by saying that I have been struggling with writing this review since the 7th of August. It isn’t that I didn’t like A Lifetime Burning, I am just not sure that I can put into words the emotions this book aroused in me. It is a brilliantly written book about some very sensitive subjects & to borrow from a review I read by Michelle Moore on Amazon.co.uk
“This is a book that will grab your attention from the very first page, and each chapter leaves you wanting to know more. Although it keeps you turning the pages, there were times when I had to put it down, and take a deep breath, before picking it back and getting absorbed again. There are issues explored here that aren’t easy to read, but they are handled in a way that means you can take that deep breath and carry on.”
A Lifetime Burning is the third of Linda Gillard’s books which I have read & while I loved it, I am so glad that it is not the first one I read. The subject matter is, well, difficult & somewhat controversial, but do not let that put you off reading this book. I am pretty certain that this is one I will not be passing on to my Mom to read, though.
A Lifetime Burning follows the lives of the Dunbar Family, specifically the relationship of twins Rory & Flora & the impact their relationship has on the other members of their family & the people around them. Flora and Rory start out life with an amazing connection that only twins could have & they seem to be the yin to the others yang, something each of the other must have for their world, their life to be complete. Early into their lives it is demonstrated to us that theirs is no simple sibling relationship. Flora is the beauty & Rory the brains, Flora is the bad one & Rory is the good. Flora is the extrovert, Rory the introvert. But, even these are not 100% accurate. Yes, Rory is an introvert, but he is also egomaniacal, demanding, & destructive (especially where his sister is concerned). Flora may be the beauty, who also has a brain in her head, but because of Rory’s musical prowess, her intellect seems to take a distant back seat when it comes to the family’s recollecting on the twins’ attributes/abilities.
Flora grew up thinking that she was a bad person, that everyone knew she was good for nothing & managed to do everything in her power to live up to that estimation. Rory grew up knowing that he was the “chosen” child, that he had the world in the palm of his hand & grew up with the attitude to accompany that knowledge.
I honestly think that Rory being sent away for school was the beginning of the end for both he & Flora. They needed to be a constant presence in each other’s lives & I think that them being seperated from each other is what inevitably lead to their relationship becoming what it did & their lives becoming what they did, ultimately leading to Flora’s death & her funeral, which is where the book begins.
A Lifetime Burning was an emotionally charged read for me, but one that I am so glad I read!