This isn't the first novel I have read by Cathy Lamb, in 2011 I borrowed Henry's Sisters from the library and though I never wrote a full review I gave the book five stars and wrote "I would give it more if I could." When I finished If You Could See What I See, the first thing I did was make a note that read "I laughed, I cried, I loved!" and the second thing I did was to order the author's entire back list.
Articulating why I so adored this novel is difficult because I can't isolate one particular element that I can identify as extraordinary. There is just something about the way in which Lamb writes that works for me.
In simplistic terms, the story of If You Could See What I See begins when Meggie O'Rourke, still struggling with the fall out from her disastrous marriage, returns home to Oregon to rescue her beloved grandmother's failing lingerie company from financial ruin. Buffeted by her grandmother's indomitable will and her sisters rivalry, Meggie has to find a way to secure both herself, and Lace, Satin and Baubles, a future.
But If You Could See What I See offers so much more than this neat summary reveals. The shocking truth of Meggie's marriage, the complex dynamics of her family and their relationships, the foundation on which the company was built and the lives of the people who work for it, all create a story that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Similarly, the characters will shock and surprise you, from Brianna O'Rourke's frank discussions about sexual satisfaction on national TV to Hayden's revelation that he is a girl stuck in a boy's body.
There is grief, pain and tragedy, deeply felt and sensitively explored, but all tempered by heart, humour and even romance. A story about love, family and courage, I laughed, I cried, I loved!