Review of The January Flower by Orla Broderick

This story of a single mother’s fierce desire to do right by her daughter reads as though every word came from Orla Broderick’s heart and oozed through her skin as drops of bright red blood and beads of sweat.

It is a beautiful and terrible story – terrible in the sense of horrifying. It evokes every lone parent’s worst nightmares: poverty, homelessness, the involvement of the authorities and those awful moments when toddler tantrums drive you to despair of your ability to be a parent, let alone a good enough one.

And through all the narrator Mary MacKinnon’s material hardships and complex relationships with the adult characters, the book shines with love and passion. Mary loves Angel her daughter, the island on which they live and the natural world around them.  She has also to recover her passion by reclaiming her sexual identity in the wake of pregnancy and childbirth and by finding the right person with whom to share it.

The book is available from

I’m posting this review on The Cat and the Dragon partly because a very large cat plays an important role in the story but mostly because it is one of the best written, most moving books I have read for years. I’m not just saying that because the author of The January Flower is my tutor in social media and I’m keen to earn brownie points. When I write fiction, I describe what I see and also what I hear whenever my major characters deign to tell me something significant. I am detached where Orla comes direct from her heart.

Morven Ash