Title: The Broken Horizon
Author: Catherine M. Byrne
Published: December 2013
Copyright © 2013
I need not say more, but to give Catherin M. Byrne credit I will complete this review in the normal style.
General Subject Matter: The life of a young woman in Scotland, her hardships, and her guilt.
Theme: Lifestyle of the early 20th century in Scotland.
Thesis: This book tells the story of Chrissie, a young woman who had a brief affair with Davie, the lead character of ‘Follow the Dove’. After Davie leaves the small island, Chrissie marries Jack Ried, a local fisherman who works hard, and can make a good life for her, and give her the family she hopes to have. Soon after the wedding, Chrissie finds the true nature of Jack Ried, who beats her regularly when he is angry. After a particularly brutal beating, Chrissie realizes that Jack will kill her the next time he beats her. Driven to the farthest extreme, and fearing for her life, Chrissie decides that she must kill him first. A she is the local midwife, and healer for the island she knows which herbs can help an ailing person, and which will kill. She puts poison in his whiskey, and shortly afterwards he comes home and starts again. As she loses consciousness during her beating, she sees him stop for a drink, which is what he usually does, and then fall to the floor, dead from the poison. When she finally regains consciousness, she drags his body to the barn, and buries him.
This begins 20 years of guilt for Chrissie, and culminates in total fear, as she receives a letter in his handwriting, stating that he is coming back to the island to be with her.
The letter opens the book, and the reader is lead through the entire story by following her memories. Then, the most awful thing happens. Jack Ried returns to the Island, and brings tragedy to everyone as he invokes his plan to kill her.
In this story Catherin M. Byrne uses small descriptions in her narrative to bring a very personal touch to this Scottish island. Typically, she will not write anything like ‘night fell’, but something much more intense, ‘when night had squeezed out the last of the daylight,’ and this makes the story even more intense.
When I read ‘Follow the Dove’ I thought that it would be a long time before I read a story as good as Catherine M. Byrne had written, but I was wrong. ‘The Broken Horizon’ shows that Catherine M.Byrne can write great books, again, and again.