The Darlings – Damppebbles Blog Tour


When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.

He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.

One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?

This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.

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Absolutely delighted to be kicking off the weeked by sharung my review of The Darlings, by Angela Jackson.Thanks so much to Emma at #damppebblesblogtours for iviting me onto the tour and to her, the publisher and the author for starting my summer hols off with such a great book to review.

I absolutely loved this book and it’s already on my top reads list of this year and there’s some very strong competition there. I think that it stood out so much to me as it is both heartbreakingly original and originally heartbreaking. It is a engrossing and emotional read and if you’ve not got your Summer TBR scheduled already, you should definitely make a space for this thought provoking, well written and unforgettable novel

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The fact that this book is so wonderfully structured with such clever juxtapositions and thought provoking contrasts means that it is hard to write a review without any spoilers. I really want you to have the same amazing reading experience that I had – so I am committed to not giving anything away that will have an impact on that. Suffice to say that I adored this book – Angela Jackson’s writing allows you to fully immerse yourself in Mark’s world and experience the challenges that he encounters right there alongside him. It’s a pretty challenging endeavour to make someone going through thoughts of adultery seem both relatable and sympathetic, but Angela manages to do so, and sustains it throughout the novel. It’s one of those books that you find yourself thinking about when you’re washing up or driving and imagining what the characters are doing and thinking, just as if they are real people that you know…

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I really lost myself in the story of these characters whose lives, loves and losses were so well described that I felt that they were real people that I knew after I’d finished reading this story. I felt like I could really transport myself into Mark’s life and imagine the impact of the loss he’d experienced and the choices that he is wrestling with throughout the novel. The book deals so sensitively with the impact of loss and the way that it can make things that make no sense seem like the most logical thing in the world so eloquently that I feel that so many people will be able to conect ith Mark and his situation.

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I really feel that this is one of the main misconceptions about books that deal with ‘big’ subjects – that they will make you miserable to read them. Angela Jackson is definitely a writer who is not afaid to tackle difficult subjects with compassion, sensitivity and a open mind – but isn’t averse to making you wince at some of the on point moments that are experienced in this novel. It really is unique in that way and I feel the blend of joy and pain really helps the readers to gain a much better understanding about the way some of these issues affect the lives of thousands of people off the page too

man in black jacket sitting on chair

I feel that books about loss, grief and recovery are perhaps one of the most underrepresented in modern literature and this story goes a long way towards dispelling some of the misconceptions and allows us to see that this situation might be a lot more complex than the stereotypical idea about what the recovery from a significant loss and its ongoing and overwhelming impact actually are- I loved the way that things aren’t just neatly packaged up in a conventionally neat way and this book attempts to show human emotions in all their messy and unconfined realities…and shows cleverly the way that the past can cast a very long shadow indeed over your present day life, when you least expect it…

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I am so grateful to Emma for inviting me to join the tour. You should definitely buy a copy and immerse yourself in this intelligent, morally complex and emotionally compelling tale. I loved that this book felt wholly original and enjoyed the way that it made me think harder about my own experiences through this fictional lens.

a boy crying tears for his loss

Buy yourself a copy right now and experience this moving and immersive read for yourself. And you don’t just have to take my word for it – look at all the praise this wonderful read has attracted already from the other bloggers on the tour

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Writer On The Shelf

Angela Jackson is a former psychology lecturer and teacher trainer. Her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award and was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year. 

The Darlings is her second novel. 

Originally from the north of England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh.

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