Author: Laura Bloom
We are trying something completely new with this one! We were approached to take part in the blog tour celebrating the release of Laura Bloom’s new book The Cleanskin, and I love being involved in blog tours so jumped at the chance; this time instead of doing an interview or review we are doing a Book Club so 10 of our members will also be reading the book and coming to review it in the comments.
I went in blind with this book club, which is something I don’t often do. I don’t think I had even checked out the synopsis for this one, but perhaps it all blended in the sea of September book clubs.
The Cleanskin is set in a little town in the region surrounding Byron Bay and there is a lot of the laid back and casual attitude you often hear about Byron Bay.
We start with Aidan, fresh off the plane from London and on a mission to find someone he hasn’t seen in nearly two decades, sent on the wishes of his brother. We don’t know why he’s looking for her or what he hopes to achieve, just that he’s there to find her.
He’s in town looking for Megan so it gets a little confusing for a while when the woman he finds is Halley, so for the duration of the story we are hearing about both Megan and Halley but it doesn’t take long to get that straight in your head.
In the present day Halley is a married cafe owner with a teenaged son, everything is not well with her life but it seems to be quite usual drifting away issues.
Aidan turns up in the cafe and throws Halley off balance, wondering how he found her as much as what he wants. This appearance in her life brings up all of the things from her past that Halley has been running from and she’s still not ready to face it.
The timeline starts to skip back and forth from present day Mullumbimby to all of the times and places that brought them to this moment. The late 70s, the late 80s and the early 90s all contain pivotal moments in this story.
The Cleanskin is a work of fiction but there are true historic events that provided the inspiration for the story, and this is why I love to read the Author’s Note and Acknowledgements.
The basis for the story is the Troubles in Ireland, the IRA bombings and the ongoing war between the Catholics and the Protestants. Again, this is an area where my history is sketchy. I remember hearing about some of the bombings but to be honest it all seemed far removed from me and my life.
Bloom has woven an interesting sense of suspense throughout the story because it is only slowly, through conversations and recollections that we piece together the puzzle of what made Megan run from her life and start fresh with a new name.
The characters are believable and relatable with interesting depth. I quite enjoyed the way that Bloom has incorporated the relationships and the way they work with Halley and her past. There are lots of interesting little subplots that leave you wondering until all the pieces start to come together.
The Cleanskin is a story of charisma and charm, and the ease with which they can manipulate; a story of belief in something bigger than yourself and the totally uncharacteristic way they can steer your life if you are not vigilant. It’s a story of relationships and the way in which we let the past dictate our future.
This is an intriguing and important story that tells of just one of the religious wars that have happened through history, and the way in which they illustrate our similarities. These things aren’t just an issue of the Irish and the British, the Catholics and the Protestants; it is also an issue in many other areas of the world where different religions fight for superiority and everyone ends up losing.
A brilliant read that will make you think and have you looking at the world around you with a slightly different perspective, or it did for me anyway.
The Cleanskin is book #45 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.
Thanks to The Author People 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Cleanskin so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I look forward to hearing what our readers think.
The next stop on The Cleanskin Blog Tour is Carpe Librum, Friday 16th September, don’t forget to head over and check it out.