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A Song for Issy Bradley

(122 Posts)
Greenfinch Sat 02-May-15 12:12:24

Many thanks for my copy of this book which the postman had hidden under the recycling boxes when I was out. I am very much looking forward to reading it over the Bank Holiday. My DSiL's family are Mormons and I struggle to understand it.

cookiemonster66 Sat 23-May-15 00:12:13

I was not sure I would be able to read this book as my own young daughter died last year. I have found great support from other mothers who have also suffered the same loss, so I thought reading a book by an author who has experienced child loss who completely understood how devastating this can be would be helpful. Yes I can relate to Claire, when your child dies, your whole world falls apart, its like being an emotionless robot on autopilot, just existing when the world races by, while inside you are screaming, a living hell of endless torment and tears. Nobody can understand that pain, and when people say "I know how you feel Ive lost my husband, brother, mother etc" NO! its NOT the same actually, this is a child you have created and carried in your womb for 9 months, nobody can understand unless you have experienced it, and this book was great how it described Claires emotions and reactions, how you describe the overwhelming GUILT a mother feels when she outlives her child is spot on. Thank you for making me realise we all go through the same stages, and the guilt we feel is part of that mourning process. Throwing the religion in the mix of the book was interesting for me as a non-believer, I am sure if I was religious I would have lost my faith when my child died, although I did find comfort from a religious aunt when she said my Natalie was not alone in heaven she is with Jesus. Although I dont actually believe, it was a comforting thought that she was not alone. As for the selfish husband putting the church before his family - well I wont even go there as I am sure my thoughts about him in print would get this message banned! So Carys thank you from one mother who lost a child to another for being so brave and sharing those emotions in your book, and to let you know how much it has helped me understand my grief. Thanks!

annemac101 Sun 24-May-15 08:21:51

cookiemonster6 I'm so sorry for your loss. It must have been a hard book for you to read especially as you say reading about Ian. He wasn't a bad man he was actually a good man but he brought out such anger in me. I wouldn't be surprised if Claire took the children and left him to his church. I don't attend a church now I did when I was younger but I found this book pushed me away more from any religion.

granh1 Sun 24-May-15 21:56:31


I found this book incredibly sad and moving. Issy died and everyone in her family were too busy to notice how ill she was, until it was too late. Everyone in the family feels guilty and tries to come to terms with their grief in different ways.

The family are Mormons and this affects how they grieve. Ian, her father has a biblical quote for every occasion, and retreats into his religion for relief from his grief. Claire, her mother, has doubts about her religion, and withdraws from life, into deep depression. Sister Zippy displaces her grief with an obsession for a boy. Brother Alma wishes he was normal, he would prefer football to religion, and irrationally steals money, which gives him a feeling of security. Young brother Jacob believes in miracles, as well as Father Christmas and the tooth fairy. He is devastated when he realises his will power and faith will not bring Issy back.

I felt angry that Ian’s religious belief put others before the welfare of his family, and he didn’t seem to notice how neglected his wife and children were. I felt sorry for the children who were brain washed into a religion they had been born into, rather than grown into. Claire had been accepted into the religion when she met Ian. She loved him, so moulded herself into the type of woman who would be an acceptable wife for a Mormon. When issy died she had a crisis of faith, I think she questioned the reality of religion, and blamed it for the neglect which led to Issy’s death. Before this, she saved money from her housekeeping - perhaps unconsciously seeing an escape route.

I like the language used e.g. “The house is full of sadness. It’s packed into every crevice and corner like snow”. It is easy to read, moving and sometimes funny. At other times it verges on the surreal when faith and dogma take over reality and common sense. (Pretend weddings, making a cart for the second coming).

I assume the book has a happy ending. Ian says no to a plea for help from the church, and instead he and the children search for Claire who is missing. Claire has gone to the sea in a depressive trance, but intends to return home. The first chapter spells out the danger of the sea and the fast incoming tides, and she is surrounded by water.

My question is - Did she get back to land?

annodomini Sun 24-May-15 22:38:53

This is a review that is full of spoilers. I don't have the book but feel I don't need to read it now.

Elegran Sun 24-May-15 23:02:04

I wish people wouldn't do that. A mention of a part of it is OK, but no need to tell the whole plot.

Greenfinch Mon 25-May-15 08:15:41

I thought we were just supposed to post questions or comments.confused

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 25-May-15 09:43:28

Yes - comments or questions with spoiler alert clearly marked if they appear at all.

I will mark the one above anyway but a gentle reminder to all!

granh1 Mon 25-May-15 18:45:05

Feel free to delete my post. I thought I had summed up the book without giving away much more than was on the back of the book. (Except for the last paragraph, which I should have not included). The book is far more than the bare bones of the story anyway - every word is worth reading!

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 25-May-15 18:50:42

That we can agree with. And we will leave it - it's clearly marked now - and you are right about it being about far more than the summary

cookiemonster66 Mon 25-May-15 22:04:56

Thank-you x

DavidH22 Tue 26-May-15 09:11:45

I found this a thought-provoking and compelling read with characters so well drawn that my emotions got carried away with me. At times I hated Ian and had so much sympathy for Claire that I had to remind myself they are fictional. The story also confirmed my prejudices against all religions. A wonderful novel with just the right amount of humour that always seems to occur in real-life difficult situations when you look at them much later. Question for Carys: When planning the story did you aim to write a book about how a family copes in their situation or were you aiming to show the Mormon religion in the way it comes across which for me is in a very poor light. I will be also interested in your reply to the comments above regarding the ending. For me Claire is turning back to her family as they all come to seek her.

merlotgran Tue 26-May-15 10:29:44

I nearly gave up on this book when it became so terribly sad I wondered whether I wanted to persevere with reading about the enveloping misery surrounding the death of a small child.

Having the story told from the viewpoint of each member of the family, trying to come to terms with their grief and guilt, gave a good insight into life in the Mormon faith - a religion I knew nothing about. I felt that their lack of support for eachother was a result of being brainwashed by a religion which at times comes across as frankly bonkers!

Like others I regarded Ian as a blinkered, weak and selfish man who leaned so heavily on his faith he was unable to see another tragedy unfolding.

My favourite character was Alma and his take on the aftermath of Issy's death which injected some much needed light relief.

I would like to ask the author: If you were to write a sequel, would Alma be capable of allowing the scales to fall from his eyes and enjoy a future more of his own making?

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 27-May-15 16:17:05

Sending these off to Carys now - answers as soon as we get them

joannapiano Wed 27-May-15 18:28:37

Sorry I've taken so long do a review.This was not a book I would have chosen just by reading the blurb at the back.Such a sad situation.
However,I thought it was a really good read and the characterisation was first class. I knew little about the Mormon religion, but our DiL grew up within a Jehovah's Witness family and speaks about how terribly restrictive it was. She now attends a CofE church with our son and the children. Her parents were displeased that she married outside their religion, but things are much better now and she hasn't lost touch with them. Indeed, her parents stay with us when they are in the area and we all get along fine.

Grannie48 Thu 28-May-15 22:34:47

I have just finished reading my copy of A Song For Issy Bradley, which I really enjoyed. Many thanks.

gmac Fri 29-May-15 01:09:23

A most enjoyable read. This is a book about a family and how each member deals with grief. I was also very interested in reading about the religions of others. Thankyou for the free book.

snare Sun 31-May-15 07:55:37

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully written. It dissects the inner lives of a family who, with their Mormon religion, tell their stories of loss in different ways. Bray has great insight and I really enjoyed the book despite initial reservations.

Thank you for my copy of the book Gransnet!

middleagespread Tue 02-Jun-15 09:33:11

The book cover does not exaggerate the qualities of this book, a first novel for Cary Bray. The story is wound around a Mormon family whose lives become splintered following the death of the youngest child. The story hinges on the reaction of mum, Claire whose grief impacts on each member of the family. The remaining children are forced to face the future without her support. Her husband Ian had duties within the church, which keep him from his family. The children reach out to others to help them through.
This book explains so much about the Mormon faith that I had little knowledge of and is written in a factual way without leaning too far to either support or condemn their views.
The children’s voices come over loud and clear and the language reflects their ages so well.
I shared Claire’s grief and sympathised with the children less supportive roles. Their reactions were typical of children, born selfish and not yet learnt the skills of empathy and compassion.
There are so many “stand out” moments that keep the pages turning and ensured my moist eyes remained so.
Yet throughout there are elements of humour, and the similes and metaphors tumble out on each and every page yet they do not impede on the progress through the chapters.
The pace is compelling, the storyline believable and the ending? Just right.

mysticwen Tue 02-Jun-15 13:22:56

thank you for the copy of this book, not sure what i expected, but it was a riveting read and really gave you a feel how difficult it must have been for claire and the children trying to follow the lead of the husband/father whilst not having the same calling and being exposed to people from normal walks of life. thank you for the journey

gardenoma Tue 02-Jun-15 13:58:48

A lovely surprise to find this book when I came home from hols, thanks gransnet. Will read it asap and post a review.

weather Thu 04-Jun-15 14:05:12

A Song For Issy Bradley
This is a very moving story and I was crying through some of the chapters..I found the information about the Mormon faith very interesting although it wouldn't be for me.
I am a great believer in family life it is the most important aspect of our lives giving our children and other members security and LOVE.
It is a brilliant piece of writing although I did find the "love scene" too explicit for my liking together with the "F's" and "S's" it seemed so out of place with the rest of the book and most unexpected.
The book cover too is really attractive and the questions and answers at the back very interesting.

FawnDrench Mon 08-Jun-15 18:38:57

Absorbing, informative and thought-provoking book. Thanks so much for my copy.
It deals admirably with an upsetting topic without falling into the realms of sensationalism, and the humorous touches throughout serve gently to lighten up a very dark and depressing subject matter.

CarysBray Tue 30-Jun-15 10:56:23


Very touching story, sad, tragic but so well told and I have learnt a lot about the religion in question. Did the author know someone who had such a tragic time in their life ? What is her next project?
Thank you for such a touching story.

Thank you Jocelyne. I don't know anyone who has lost a child to meningitis and I don't know anyone who has fallen apart after losing a child. I do know people who have lost children or had very sick children. I am just finishing off my second novel which is about a bus driver called Darren and his 12 year old daughter.

CarysBray Tue 30-Jun-15 10:56:55


I couldn't put the book down and had to carry on reading to the end once I had started.
It was well written and very enlightening for me as a person who knew very little about the Mormon religion and how followers incorporate it into everyday family life.
I likened the catastrophic event in the family to an earthquake and the subsequent disintegration of the family, their beliefs and their relationships was like the aftershocks and the shifting of tectonic plates after the disaster.
I liked the way in which the author drew the thread of each character and their perspective on the tragedy separately and then wove them back together for a breath-taking conclusion.
I would like to ask Cary which (if any) of the characters did she identify with the most? I would also like to thank her for an honest, well written book.

Thank you Rosannie. That’s a hard question! I feel sympathetic towards each of the characters, even Ian! I probably have the strongest connection to Alma. I feel sorry for him because he’s really quite a good boy, it’s just that he can’t be good in the way his dad wants him to be.

CarysBray Tue 30-Jun-15 10:57:56


winifred01 So sorry. That must have been awful for you all. My baby daughter died back in the 70's, after days in hospital ICU. Reading about the hospital scenes and the smells back at home brings it all back doesn't it? It's my biggest dread that one of the grandchildren should die because I don't want our children to go through that pain. I persevered with Issy Bradley tho and am ready to ask Carys a question now.

Carys - I found myself getting very agitated with the Mormon faith of Ian, I felt as if I was drowning in Mormonism at the beginning of the book. Is this what it's really like? I just cannot believe that Ian's parents didn't come back from their Mission to help to support the family.

Like Rosannie I would like to say what a brilliant book you have written. The characters are excellently portrayed. Al's three Nephites were amazing. Some of Jacob's lines were superb and we now need to know if you are going to write more about the Bradley family.

Thank you Carys Bray and Gransnet

Thank you Nonnanna. Like all religions, Mormonism has its very devout members and its more casual members. The Bradleys are definitely at the devout end of the scale. I think that if/when people believe this life is very small, almost like an aperitif in the grand scheme of things, then it’s perhaps a little easier to miss out on family occasions.

I don’t plan to write about the Bradleys again at the moment, but I won’t say never!