Well-crafted emotion

A promising debut novel from first time author Pamela Duncan, Moon Women traces the deep complexities of relationships within families.

The book asks: "How much do we owe each other?" "Do we owe each other the truth or perhaps is it sometimes necessary to withhold the truth to protect the ones we love?"

Moon Women centers around the lives of the women in the Moon family. Duncan uses Ruth Ann Moon as a means of holding everyone’s story together–her sister, mother and daughter all seem to gravitate back to her, holding an otherwise fragmented plot together. Ruth Ann, having finally come to terms with her divorce, her aging mother and her troubled daughters, is preparing to relax and enjoy her new-found freedom.

Her new tranquility shatters when she receives a phone call from her very pregnant 19-year-old daughter, asking for a pick up from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

About the same time, Cassandra, her nearby sister, moves their mentally declining mother into Ruth Ann’s house. Feisty and fiercely independent, Marvelle soon proves a match for both Ruth Ann and Ashley.

To top it all off, Ruth Ann’s ex-husband, A.J., an incorrigible womanizer, re-enters the scene. Bored with the lonely, inconsistent life he leads, he attempts to woo Ruth Ann back. One more character soon enters the fray when the father of Ashley’s baby, Keith, shows up to take responsibility. Keith is a good man ready to make a life for his family, but Ashley just isn’t ready to commit. So, the patient man he is, Keith spends much of the novel camped in a tent at the edge of their property.

Oh yeah, and Cassandra’s there too. Although, one has to ask why she has been given the role of a main character. Her story was not given time to develop full and therefore, not only seems incomplete, but it holds little relevance to the main plot. A pivotal moment in her story loses its climactic edge because there is little character growth leading up to it. Cassandra’s high points in the novel come when she supports family members, leading readers to wonder why she wasn’t simply made a secondary character.

Duncan’s desire to make every character a main character and tell each story in full proves to be the novel’s major flaw. She simply does not develop each plot fully. This is most clear at the end when everything must be wrapped up cleanly and all the loose ends that have been developed simply disappear, including the family secret that plagues

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