Author: Sheila O’Flanagan
This is the latest Sunday Times No.1 Bestseller in a long list of Sheila O’Flanagan novels and it’s one that certainly won’t disappoint.
The Prologue introduces us to Domino Delahaye, through the eyes of Lizzie, a caterer doing her best to remain detached and professional. This introduction comes at a time where she has been out of the media’s eye for a couple of months.
Previously she spent a lot of time in the media spotlight, for a long time it was all positive publicity as one half of the Dazzling Delahaye’s and most recently quite negatively when the Delahaye empire came crashing down. All of this we learn through the thoughts running through Lizzie’s mind about the larger than life woman she has just met.
Chapter One takes us back to a time before Domino – when she was the self-conscious teenaged Dominique Brady – and slowly brings us through the years to her meeting with Lizzie and beyond. O’Flanagan’s characters are tangible and loveable, all of them with their fair share of flaws.
We move through a great deal of personal development with them all as Stand By Me spans over 20 years in the life of Domino Delahaye and the major players in her life. There is no choice but to cheer them on, laugh with them, cry with them and at times want to berate them for their bad decisions because they are so real.
From her humble beginnings in a strict Catholic family, with a pious brother destined to join the priesthood, Dominique Brady suffers a little more than the usual teenage angst. Always wanting to be part of the popular crowd and find somewhere that she fits in but always feeling that she doesn’t measure up – until the day her drop dead gorgeous, but unfortunately already married to God, brother comes to the school play and catches the eye of all the popular girls.
This is the first real turning point where Dominique makes new friends; albeit largely due to the attractive prospect of running into the gorgeous brother when visiting; and starts living a different life, a life disapproved of by her parents.
When Domino finds herself unwed and pregnant at 18, from her first time, things look decidedly grim. Boyfriend bricklayer Brendan Delahaye stands up and assumes responsibility by proposing marriage. For all purposes this is a shotgun wedding but Brendan was always going to ask her to marry him – she’s his lucky charm. Not that anyone else sees that.
We skip through all the major moments in Domino’s life from there until the day successful, dependable Brendan disappears leaving a devastated Domino to face the music, and the media, and pick up the pieces of a life in which she never imagined she would be alone.
Brendan stood by her in the beginning and again through severe post natal depression and a total change of plans for their family. For so long she had feared he would leave her and finally the day had come – not in any way she had ever imagined.
The circumstances surrounding Brendans disappearance have far reaching consequences for the entire Delahaye family and Domino struggles through to find her feet once more and create an independent life for herself. A life where she realises her strengths and learns to depend on herself. A life where she has distanced herself from the support of the Dalahaye clan and reassessed her opinion of herself. Comfortable and content in her knowledge of what’s really important but still needing some sort of closure – at what cost will closure be gained?
Within these covers you will find all of the elements you would expect: betrayal, jealousy, adultery and I guess the main one is that appearances can be really deceiving. Self deception and complacency can be the most dangerous weapon in any situation.
An enjoyable and touching read that will have you hooked from page one. Some surprising plot twists in the tangled web that is the Delahaye clan which will drag you even further in trying to decipher the inner workings of this seemingly close and loving, supportive family.