I received Astral Travel by Elizabeth Baines to review as part of Random Things Blog Tours. Astral Travel unravels the mysteries of Jo’s family history as she tries to write a book about her late father.
After Patrick Jackson’s death his estranged daughter Jo begins to try to unravel the mysteries that always surrounded him. Why did he never talk about his past in Ireland? Why was he always so moody and bad-tempered in the home while a talkative charmer in the outside world? Why, at one time, did he forbid Jo to do family history research? And why did he seem to have it in for her especially, affecting her life into adulthood?
Why, too, do Jo’s memories of her own childhood differ so starkly from her mother’s?
The more Jo questions and digs, the more the mysteries deepen. Until at last she uncovers a chain of secrets forged in the religious and sexual prejudices of the past, but with the power to affect the lives of Patrick’s family in the present day.
Elizabeth is the author of two previous novels published by Salt, The Birth Machine and Too Many Magpies, as well as two short-story collections, Balancing on the Edge of the World and Used to Be. She’s also been a prizewinning playwright for Radio 4, writing both comedy and serious drama, and has produced and acted in her own plays for fringe theatre. She has been a schoolteacher and has taught Writing in universities, but now writes full time. She lives with her husband in Manchester where she brought up her two now grown sons.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Astral Travel but I wanted something other than a murder mystery to read and was intrigued when reading the blurb.
Jo has so many vivid memories of her childhood and yet some seem to differ so wildly from her mother’s and sisters. She decides writing about her late father will help her understand what happened much clearly. She has to dig quite deep to eventually start getting nearer the truth and slowly, bit by bit the story unravels.
Between religious and sexual prejudice, Jo learns the truth is wilder than she first thought but publishing a book may not be a wise idea for the sake of the family.
Overall I really enjoyed the way Astral Travel is written and reading a different kind of mystery book. Family histories are always interesting but discovering some of the darker secrets can be a real eye opener, not to mention a stark reminder that prejudice can impact people’s lives in such an intense way.