Book Reviews

Book Review: Petals and Stones, by Joanne Burn

Petals and Stones, by Joanne Burn

Publication: Legend Press; September 6, 2018

petals and stones

About the book:

When Uma discovers her husband’s infidelity just hours before his untimely death, the carefully woven threads of her life begin to unravel.

Struggling to manage the grief of those around her, she escapes to a remote cottage by the coast where she swims in the winter sea, cooks the forgotten Keralan dishes of her childhood and begins the search for her husband’s lover.

It isn’t long before Uma realizes what she must do to pick up the tattered threads of her life. But will her choices jeopardize the only family she has left?


**My Review**

Petals and Stones, the debut novel from Joanne Burn, has been patiently waiting on my NetGalley shelf and as soon as I started it, I realized what a gem it is. Uma and Daniel are married and work together in his family’s deli business, Miller’s. While Daniel is away on business, Uma discovers that he has been having an affair, which they briefly discuss on the phone before he returns home. But when Daniel is killed in a car accident, Uma is left with unanswered questions about his infidelity and questions about their marriage, the life they built together, and what she really wants from life. 

I believe I mentioned this recently in a previous review, but there seems to be a trend lately with a spouse dying and then the surviving spouse later uncovering secrets about their lives. I think that’s partially why I waited so long to read this, worried that it would be the same thing. However, I was very pleasantly surprised that this was not like so many other novels lately. First, Uma learned about Daniel’s affair prior to his death. Secondly, the novel switches time periods between the present and earlier years prior to her and Daniel’s marriage, shedding light onto what brought them together and how Uma truly felt. 

Prominent characters include Daniel’s mother Mary and his sisters Ruth and Anna, as well as, his best friend Aaron and Uma’s best friend Pippa. With Uma having no living relatives, Daniel’s family very much becomes her own as their friendship and relationship develop, but also feels unsteady to Uma after his death as she fears changes in her life will result in his family turning away from her. While Uma and Pippa appear to be as close as two friends can be at the beginning of the novel, the author slowly reveals a relationship burdened with envy and distrust due to numerous factors and events that have occurred over their lives. Then there is the free-spirited, adventurous Aaron, who, along with Uma, has kept secrets about his feelings while still being an integral part of the friendship between himself, Pippa, Daniel, and Uma. 

After first reading the description of this novel, I expected it to be about loss, mourning, and Uma discovering who her husband truly was. Instead, I found a beautifully written novel about a woman acknowledging her longtime dreams, desires, and secrets while simultaneously rebuilding her own life. Uma learned who she really was separate from her life and business shared with Daniel, she found the courage to be honest about her past, and also found the courage to be honest about what she wanted for her future. Joanne Burn has developed an incredible group of characters, all reflecting on what once was while learning to embrace changes and the uncertainty of what will come next in their lives. An outstanding debut that should not be missed! 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Legend Press for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Petals and Stones on Amazon or Amazon UK.



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