Matryoshka by Katherine Johnson

“A devastatingly accurate tale demonstrating the rippling hurt that family secrets cause” 

When Sara Rose returns to live in her recently deceased grandmother’s Tasmanian cottage, her past and that of her mother and grandmother is ever-present. Sara’s grandmother, Nina Barsova, a Russian post-war immigrant, lovingly raised Sara in the cottage at the foot of Mt Wellington but without ever explaining why Sara’s own mother, Helena, abandoned her as a baby.

Sara, a geneticist, also longs to know the identity of her father, and Helena won’t tell her. Now, estranged not only from her mother but also from her husband, Sara raises her daughter, Ellie, with a central wish to spare her the same feeling of abandonment that she experienced as a child.

When Sara meets an Afghani refugee separated from his beloved wife and family, she decides to try to repair relations with Helena – but when a lie told by her grandmother years before begins to unravel, a darker truth than she could ever imagine is revealed.

Matryoshka is a haunting and beautifully written story about the power of maternal love, and the danger of secrets passed down through generations

Duffy’s Thoughts On Matryoshka

Knowing The Better Son, I was keen to read Matryoshka, but I wasn’t prepared for just how invested I would become in the main character, Sara Rose. She resonated with me so completely I found it incredibly hard at times to read her pain and frustration. Author Katherine Johnson has a great talent in peeling back the layers of a character and writing in such intricate detail so that some moments on the page become entwined with your own memories and feelings.

The conversations between Sara and her estranged partner Ian were quite triggering for me as Sara navigates the aftermath of a break-up. The phone hang-ups, rage, jealousy and feelings of inadequacy and of being utterly shattered. However, it is this heartbreak, in sync with the death of her beloved grandmother that slowly opens up a complex and shocking family drama. Enveloped around this sad and confusing time for Sara Rose is a layer of love and friendship which comes from an unexpected place.

I bolted through Matryoshka in two sittings and had I not had work the next day, I would have read deep into the night to finish it.

A moving piece of fiction, with an original storyline. Be prepared to be fully invested in this book.

One of my favourite reads this year

Matryoshka is published November 1 by Ventura Press who supplied me with a copy of the book

Grab your copy now by clicking the book image below

Matryoshka by Katherine Johnson book review