Thursday, August 18, 2011

Revelations by Erin O'Reilly

Publisher:           Intaglio Publications

(This book was previously published as Emma's Journey.)

Revelations is about how people can change their lives, no matter what they have been before. This applies not only to the title character, Emma Sanders, but to the woman who comes into her life, Cay O'Neill.

Emma's life has been unfortunate from an early age. A tragic fire killed most of her family and left her mother damaged in body and spirit. Emma is raised in a world of seclusion and fear, devoid of most modern conveniences, by a woman who mentally and emotionally abuses her. Now that her mother is dead, she lives by herself, apparently afraid of everything and everyone, and generally is perceived by the people in the nearby town as a nice, but very strange woman.

Then Cay O'Neill enters her life. Cay rises out of the lake one day at the end of Emma's pier and turns her world upside down. Emma thinks Cay is a writer who has come to the area to have time to finish a book and seems intent on befriending the reclusive woman who sees no reason why she needs a friend. In reality, Cay has been hired by someone who has a grudge against Emma and she is supposed to get close to Emma so that she can turn her over to him for his act of revenge. It isn't long before Cay realizes that she can't do that because she is very fond of the withdrawn woman and feels protective towards her, but finding a way out of the situation that won't cost both women their lives seems impossible. When the confrontation finally comes, it will be Emma who shows the surprising strength and knowledge of the world that may save them and open a new existence to them both.

The fact that the book was originally called Emma's Journey is odd because both of the women in this book have a journey to make. Emma has to overcome psychological abuse and learn to live in a world with much more complexity than she was raised in, none of which is easy for her considering her past. Cay has an equal journey to make though. She has to reach past her experience and discover what it means to live a life that is decent, where she does what is right even though it may cost her money and her own safety. Each of these women is moving towards a point of new freedom and the fact that they can make the trip together strengthens them both.

The characters and events in this book are well developed. Cay may decide to reject her original mission a little quickly, but it doesn't happen so fast that it detracts from the story. The best part of the story however is when Emma provides a surprising twist and moves dramatically from what, until that moment, had been a clueless victim to the character who immediately understands that what might be considered an insane act could be the solution to both of their problems. Whereas that scene might be considered artificial in another book, it makes perfect sense in this one.

This isn't a simple story of women meeting, developing a relationship and going off together, although it might seem like that at first. Instead, it's an almost delicious story about role reversal and how using the perception that society holds about you can have a very satisfying and surprising outcome. This book just may leave you reconsidering how you view that strange lady who lives down the road.

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