Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore

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Abandoned as a baby, Rebecca has no tie to her parents other than the men's size-eleven shoebox in which she was found. Yet she grows from a child of no one and nowhere into a woman who creates her own unorthodox but tender family. First, there is Joe-a brilliant historian and loyal friend who longs for more than Rebecca can give him, but whose devotion sustains her. Adam, Joe's friend, is the man who becomes her husband. And Ruby is the daughter whom Rebecca loves with almost unbearable intensity.

Then this hopeful life is dealt a blow that could shatter the strongest ties. Rebecca flees her marriage, and Adam sinks into a life numbed by routine and isolation. In the end, it is Joe who enables them to find the way back to understanding, and offers Rebecca a history that she can call her own.

Illuminated by both sorrow and vivid joy, Mourning Ruby is ultimately about the transcendent power of storytelling itself.

About Helen Dunmore

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Helen Dunmore is a multi-award-winning novelist, short story writer and poet. She has written nine adult books, including A Spell of Winter, winner of the first Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996, and twenty-two children's books, including The Tide Knot, the sequel to Ingo and the winner of the UK NestlE Children's Book Prize Silver Medal. Helen Dunmore lives in Bristol, England, with her husband and children. Visit her online at
Published January 1, 2003 by Viking Books. 320 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Joe’s story is both echo chamber and harbinger: Florence shields her child from hostile aircraft just as Rebecca had once dreamed of shielding Ruby from traffic, while the brothel’s attic bedroom will find its counterpart in the attic bedroom that reunites Adam and Rebecca.

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The Guardian

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Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore 320pp, Viking, £16.99 Helen Dunmore has never flinched from writing about pain, deprivation, forbidden loves, and suffering.

Sep 27 2003 | Read Full Review of Mourning Ruby

Publishers Weekly

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When Rebecca, the narrator of most of Dunmore's fine, almost unbearably sad eighth novel (after 2003's Ice Cream) , shares a flat with Joe in London, she begins to enjoy the pleasures of friendship and family for the first time in her life: she was abandoned as a baby and adopted by a couple rema...

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Book Reporter

Only as a young adult can Rebecca make a semblance of a family with her friend and roommate, Joe, an up-and-coming historian who creates a home with Rebecca.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Mourning Ruby

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