'But I suppose Steven and I knew something about broken things - that sometimes you just couldn't mend them. Never stopped trying though. Because you can't - until you do: stop and leave the broken thing behind.'
Struggling to bear the legacy of her grandparents' experience of the Holocaust and her mother's desperate fragility, Sally seeks to reconnect with her brother Steven. Once close, Steven seems a stranger to her now that he has left London for Brighton. The echoes of their history once bound them - but it is an inheritance Steven can no longer share.
Starlings reaches back through three generations of inherited trauma, exploring how the impact of untold stories ricochets down the years. As Sally winds her way back to catch the moment when Steven slipped away, she collects the fractured words and sliding memories that might piece together her grandparents' journeys. Having always looked through the eyes of ghosts she cannot appease, she at last comes to hear what speechless mouths might have said: perhaps Before may be somewhere we can never truly leave behind and After simply the place we must try to make our home.
In delicate brushstrokes, this extraordinary first novel captures a family unravelling as the unspeakable finds a voice. It is by turns sad, hopeful, and deeply compelling.
Starlings by Miranda Gold was published in paperback on 1 December 2016 by Karnac Books and is the author's debut novel.
Starlings is a very short novel, just over 200 pages in the paperback edition, but it packs such a punch and those few pages leave a lingering feeling of mixed and enlightening emotions for the reader.
This is a story that demands a lot of the reader; the writing style is difficult to connect with at first, but as this clever author continues, her words begin to compel and intrigue.
Set over just twenty-four hours, this is Sally's story, as she lives it. She's a troubled and complex girl, desperate for the love of the brother that she adores, and who left the family some years before. Her family are damaged and their history has formed Sally's life. The memories of her parents, and grandparents. Memories that have passed from one generation down to the next, forming them, making them ill and preventing them from forming their own, fresh memories.
Sally visits her brother every year. It is her opportunity to escape from the fear and disease filled home that overwhelms her. Yet, she is unable to be free and enjoy herself. Her mind continues to whirl with questions and self-doubt.
Starlings is a challenging novel. It is intense and sometimes seems almost something of a battle. It is, however, a beautifully written battle, with poetic prose that is expertly paced. Brave and poignant, I'd certainly recommend it.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
Miranda Gold is a writer currently based in London. Before turning her focus to fiction, Miranda took the Soho Theatre Course for young writers, where her play, Lucky Deck, was selected for development and performance.
Starlings is currently being adapted for the stage.
She is now working on her second novel.
Follow Miranda on Twitter @mirandagold999