Braided Loves, by Ger Burke
Reviewed by Freya McClements
Teresa Goldstein is a paradox: a convent- school teacher and the author of a sexual guide for teenagers who struggles with the repression bred of a strict Catholic upbringing.
She finds refuge in alcohol, but, as her drinking takes hold, she is unable to cope with her mother’s illness, the death of her best friend’s husband and her own jealousy. As her alcoholism spirals out of control, so too does her life, until she risks losing her beloved husband and her children. As a central character, she is not without redeeming features: she rescues a pregnant teenager and she stands up for her Jewish husband in the face of her father’s anti-Semitism.
In the grip of her addiction, however, Teresa becomes a pathetic rather than a sympathetic character, and the reader’s frustration at her selfishness is a testament to the realism of Burke’s account. This is an honest and unflinching portrait of the damage that alcoholism can wreak on what is an already conflicted life.