Mourning Ruby (Dunmore, Helen)

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9780399151484: Mourning Ruby (Dunmore, Helen)

Abandoned as a baby, Rebecca has no tie to her parents other than the men's size-eleven shoebox in which she was found. Yet she grows from a child of no one and nowhere into a woman who creates her own unorthodox but tender family. First, there is Joe-a brilliant historian and loyal friend who longs for more than Rebecca can give him, but whose devotion sustains her. Adam, Joe's friend, is the man who becomes her husband. And Ruby is the daughter whom Rebecca loves with almost unbearable intensity.

Then this hopeful life is dealt a blow that could shatter the strongest ties. Rebecca flees her marriage, and Adam sinks into a life numbed by routine and isolation. In the end, it is Joe who enables them to find the way back to understanding, and offers Rebecca a history that she can call her own.

Illuminated by both sorrow and vivid joy, Mourning Ruby is ultimately about the transcendent power of storytelling itself.

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About the Author:

Helen Dunmore is the author of seven novels, including A Spell of Winter, With Your Crooked Heart, and Talking to the Dead, and has been published in fifteen countries. She is also a children's novelist, short-story writer, prizewinning poet, and the first-ever winner of Britain's prestigious Orange Prize.

From Publishers Weekly:

When Rebecca, the narrator of most of Dunmore's fine, almost unbearably sad eighth novel (after 2003's Ice Cream), shares a flat with Joe in London, she begins to enjoy the pleasures of friendship and family for the first time in her life: she was abandoned as a baby and adopted by a couple remarkably unsuitable for parenting. Joe, a historian interested in Stalin, introduces her to simple pleasures and shows her that loneliness need not be permanent. And it's through Joe that she meets Adam, a neonatologist who becomes her husband and the father of their daughter, Ruby ("For the first time, I was tied to someone by blood"). Given the book's title, Ruby's death is no surprise (though it's still heartbreaking without being melodramatic), and Dunmore plumbs the consequences of loss: How does one mourn, and then accept, the unacceptable? Numbed by Ruby's death, Rebecca drifts away from Adam, finding diversion in a job as an assistant to a hotelier, Mr. Damiano; Adam buries himself in his work with premature babies. Ambitiously, Dunmore complements this tragic narrative with two other stories, one autobiographical, told by Mr. Damiano, about growing up in a circus where his parents were trapeze artists, and one told by Joe, a work of fiction set during WWI about a man and a woman who could be his and Rebecca's ancestors. Rebecca's own story isn't told linearly, so these narrative asides aren't as distracting as they sound. And they are critical to the author's main theme: that narrative is a key to understanding and to acceptance. This is that rare novel, an intensely emotional, fiercely intelligent story, fiction with the power to offer redemption.
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Dunmore, Helen
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