Ice and a Slice (by Della Galton)

I’ve very much liked the short stories and writing advice I’ve read by Della Galton, and I read one of her novels 18 months ago, which I also liked. I downloaded this one when it was available free for the Kindle, just over a year ago, and decided to start reading it on a recent flight.

‘Ice and a Slice’ is a story with a strong message, but it’s not written in an ‘educational’ style. And I found it compelling reading. It’s told in the first person by Sarah Jane, who is known to most of her friends as SJ. She’s in hospital when we first meet her and we learn that she’s fortunate to be alive, as she had drunk a litre of gin in a short period…

The rest of the story takes us back to different stages in her life, some in the previous few weeks, and some rather earlier. We see her when she first realises that she may be drinking rather too much, and makes a first nervous - and somewhat defensive - visit to a counsellor. We see her when she’s a teenager, and worried about her younger sister Alison. We learn that she and Alison aren’t speaking… and eventually discover why.

It’s a cleverly written book, gradually revealing SJ’s past, and exploring some of the reasons why she began drinking so heavily. Alongside this runs a subplot concerning her best friend Tanja, who has something else to deal with but won’t, at first, confide about it. We discover exactly why SJ refuses to speak to Alison; by the time it’s revealed it was fairly obvious what was going to be discovered… and then we meet Alison for ourselves.

The narration is clearly that of someone unreliable - SJ has increasing memory lapses, and is a stressed, anxious person who finds it hard to forgive. Yet she makes an excellent protagonist, whose story had me almost on the edge of my seat.

I see from reviews that this book has been immensely helpful to several people, both those struggling with drinking themselves, and those who are their families and friends. Perhaps some of it is unrealistic; I don’t know, but I would recommend it highly.

Amazon links are to printed paperback versions of this book, but it's also available in Kindle form on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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