Review: The Lost Mother by Tracy Buchanan

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Release date: September 2, 2016

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Women’s Fiction 

Goodreads blurb:

How far would you go for those you love the most?

When Louise McKenzie’s mother is reported missing after the Boxing Day tsunami, Louise leaves her young family and travels to Thailand. There, she finds a bag containing her mother’s passport and a book filled with beautifully illustrated maps: The Atlas of Us, belonging to a woman named Claire. 

Who is Claire? How was Louise’s mom connected to her? And might the atlas help Louise find the answers she needs – and her mom? 

As Louise pores over the keepsakes hidden amongst its pages, she pieces together the mystery of a love affair, a dark tragedy and a secret both Claire and her mother would go to the ends of the earth to protect. 

A gripping, page-turning and emotionally powerful story about love, loss and making peace with the past 


Within the past few months I’ve become a huge fan of Tracy Buchanan’s having read both No Turning Back and My Sister’s Secret and immensely enjoying both. I knew as soon as I saw The Lost Mother was being released in the US I had to read it. Usually if I read at least three books by an author that captive me I add them to my auto buy list. I’m delighted to say that I just added Buchanan to it!

This book is really two separate narratives that eventually merge into one. Told in both the past and the present and from two viewpoints, first from Louise in 2004 immediately following the devastating tsunami in Thailand and from Claire beginning a few years before the tsunami. For much of the book I was wondering what these two women had in common but Buchanan slowly tells their individual stories then before you know it things begin to piece together.

Louise is desperate to find her mother who was in Thailand when the tsunami hit. They’ve been estranged for two years and she is full of regret and sorrow while she searches frantically for her mother. As she begins to unravel the puzzle of what happened to her mother, Nora she gets way more confusing information than she bargained for. Claire is a character that touched me deeply, especially as she detailed her struggles with infertility. I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak that comes with being told you will never conceive.

I’ve mentioned in my other reviews of Buchanan’s work that she has a magical quality to her writing, especially her magnificent use of stunning imagery. She writes such a detailed and deeply rich narrative full of enchanting descriptions of the setting. The Lost Mother hops all around the globe to some exotic and far flung places and the way she describes these cities allows the reader to fully immerse themselves into the story. There were times that I really felt like I was standing next to Louise and Claire smelling the sea air or feeling the red Australian sand beneath my feet. 

This book really has something for every type of reader. There is romance, a bit of suspense, mystery, painful secrets and drama along with a deep and emotional depth, both in the characters and the plot. The storyline is complicated but not in a frustrating way, just an interesting way that absorbed me until the very last page.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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