The Consequences of Love
By Gavanndra Hodge
Rated: 5 stars *****
This is a moving story of Gavanndra Hodges compelling, emotional, honest account of the strength and bonds that creates sisterly love and how love can devastate a person. The book goes between the 1980s, 1990’s and 2000’s. There is a lot that readers will be familiar with from music to locations to childhood toys. From the start you can almost feel the tender love between Gavanndra and her sister Candy. It is sweet and yet so devastatingly heart-breaking as Candy becomes so unwell from an airborne virus and slips away, the girl who is described as being loving, wilful, funny, curious and so much more.
The numbness of grief and the consequences of not giving time to grieve is layed bare within this brave story, that holds more than, certainly what I ever imagined in this must read book. It is definitely a book that will take readers through many emotions and yet does shed some light and hope and how powerful the psychological make up of our minds can be in this terrifically written book that is a great read.
Within my post here, you will find out more about the author, the blurb and my review.
I give thanks to the publishing company – Michael Joseph – an imprint of Penguin for allowing me to review such a heart-rendering, touching and tender book; and for supplying me with a physical print copy in-exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
About the Author
Seven-year-old Gavanndra Hodge’s life is a precarious place. Her father is a hairdresser and drug dealer to Chelsea’s most decadent inhabitants; her mother an alcoholic ex-model. So, it is up to Gavanndra to keep her little sister Candy safe.
But when Candy dies suddenly on holiday aged nine, Gavanndra’s family, already so fragile and damaged, implodes.
Now a mother herself, and with only memories of Candy’s awful final moments, Gavanndra embarks on a journey to write her way back to the little girl whose death tore her family apart.
The Consequences of Love is a story of loss and recovery, trauma and memory. It is a joyous and compelling account of the strength of the love between sisters and how nothing is ever truly lost if we are brave enough to return to where we began.
Candy (Candida Meander Hodge) died 4th April 1989. This book is about love, loss, grief on a huge scale, dealing with the consequences of the magnitude of grief, identity, drugs and alcohol of dealing with memories and handling life when people fill in the gaps, that have been long since suppressed. This is an emotional read and also one that is perhaps important. As much as there are other people mentioned in the book, like a boyfriend and friends etc, it is ultimately one that focuses your mind on both Gavanndra and Candy Hodge.
It finally becomes about both preserving both sisters. One dead, the other alive and the beginnings a gradual recovery, decades later for the one who is alive. It shows the messiness of life and the need to give time to actually process emotions and to grieve. It’s a brave book that in no way could have been easy to write and to bare so much about life in the past and closer to present times as memories are retrieved about the people she associated with and the way her family was and the emotional pain, that she may have thought she dealt with at the time of the death, but had not as it states her own vices. It becomes apparent that, although there is hope and love as she now has a family of her own, with a husband who is different from her father, that it would have been a lot to deal with, enough to hope that some way, Gavanndra Hodge’s personal life gets that bit better as more time goes on.
It’s also about, perhaps not full recovery, but a merging of the past and present and finding a way to live with them both. There seems to be strings of pain that, like threads that intertwine to create it to run through something, the pain intertwines and feeds through this family and the profound effect Candy’s death had on her, into adulthood and the entire surviving family. There is some optimism and hope provided by Gavanndra Hodge as she tells this life story.
There are however, in 1982, childhood memories of fun like Enid Blyton books, wobbly teeth and fun with her dad. The type of fun that would make any reader smile and may bring back their own childhood memories. There’s a cutting darkness of her dad being involved in drugs.
Time moves on to 2014 and Gavanndra naturally grows up and has her own children – Hebe and Minna, with an age gap not far from herself and Candy. It is evident that the memories hits hard when her children are playing gleefully around. At this time Gavanndra works for Tatler magazine as a successful Deputy Editor as she tries to work through the past and yet separate it from her present at times. The writing is powerful, it grabs you from the beginning to the end.
The book covers quite a lot and her mother also becomes terribly unwell with cellulitis and sepsis, both that are challenging to deal with and are thankfully becoming more prominent in certain narratives in the news in recent years. Time moves also to 2015 and there is a sentence, that, for me anyway, hits home even more and that is about how every time a phone rings, you wonder if someone else has died. It will feel so uniquely different for everyone, but at the same time, I know how that feels for me, as Gavanndra will for her.
The book highlights some of the great work of Julia Samuel – a psychotherapist who consoled Princes William and Harry after their mother died and is a founder of Child Bereavement UK. This, apart from being nice, fits in with Gavanndra’s personal as well as her ambitious professional life. It is also very interesting to read about the social circles she moves/moved in.
In 1991 there is a mix of drugs and GCSEs, quite a comparison to later in 2015 when she finally goes for therapy and to try to remember Candy more, the sister who she lost and to release the profoundness and pain of the grief a bit so it becomes more manageable. Reading onwards I hold hope for Gavanndra Hodge that she gets what she is seeking and that her personal life improves as more of what happened to Candy almost tumbles out in some interesting therapies and therapists, except I doubt in reality it did tumble out completely and took time.
There’s a really interesting interview in the last quarter of the book that shines a light on Jan Hodge about the family and tragedies.
The book does ultimately take readers up to 2018 and 2019, where we really get a glimpse into Candy, who seemed vibrant, knew her own mind – bordering on stubborn with and arty flair and friendly and the school reports are fascinating.
This is ultimately a book that is emotional and moving and is very interesting indeed. As much as the years move around a bit from chapter to chapter, it reads very well and does make sense to do this in this instance. It reads like there is a lot of honesty and in the end you cannot but help that there’s some more light in the author’s life to come. There is in a sense, perhaps more to be told, but the focus is excellent. It deals well with what “The Consequences of Love” can be, and yet we all need love and to be loved.