064: Carys Bray: British Mormon Novelist and Author of “A Song for Issy Bradley”

Carys is a British novelist who lives with her family in Southport a seaside town in Lancashire in North West England. A Song for Issy Bradley is Carys’ debut novel and was published recentlyScreen Shot 2014-08-07 at 6.51.44 AM
by Hutchinson Books. It has been released in the UK and is soon to be released in paperback in the US.  A Song for Issy Bradley has had a full suite of reviews from the UK dailies all of which have been overwhelmingly positive. This is remarkable not simple because Carys is a first time novelist but that her book is a novel about Mormons. To be precise she writes about a British Mormon family, bishops family no less.

A Song for Issy Bradley explores five year old Issy Bradley’s death through the eyes of each family member. Ian Bradley the father, husband and orthodox Mormon, Claire his convert wife, through the eyes of Issy’s teenaged siblings Zipporah and Alma, and her brother seven year old Jacob.   However rather than resorting to the predictable caricatures of Mormon life or romanticizing death from the doctrinal position of a faith tradition, Carys’ treatment of each of her characters is nuanced, compassionate and profoundly kind.  Nick Hornby, author of bestsellers such as About a Boy and High fidelity; endorses the book proclaiming to be:

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 4.14.27 PMA terrific book . . . I loved A SONG FOR ISSY BRADLEY. It’s wry, smart, human, and rather miraculously, avoids mawkishness. And, ultimately, it’s moving and comforting in a way that makes sense even to the agnostic.

 The Mail on Sunday’s review states that:

Bray explores the healing power of religion with rare assurance in one of the year’s most impressive debuts.

 Only one who has been steeped in the Mormon faith is capable of such authenticity and Carys Bray is Mormon to the bone.   A thoughtful faith is a supportive conversation to help those struggling in their faith transition, so it might come as surprise that Carys has disaffiliated from the church. Nonetheless her book is refreshingly generous in its treatment of Mormonism. While there is candor one doesn’t find oneself blindsided by someone who uses literature to eviserate the church.   It stands in this place between belief, and furious honesty and makes sense of these polarities through the perspective of faith. It’s this luminous and mindful quality that makes this discussion of the book ‘A song for Issy Bradley’ a wonderful fit for A Thoughtful Faith.

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4 Comments

  1. Beth

    Very interesting podcast. I have lived in the US for 30 years, but I was born and raised in Bolton, Lancashire. I remember an activity as a youth in England when we didn’t actually wear wedding dresses, but we brought them to display. I am not sure what the problem is with that kind of activity as most girls dream of getting married, even if they plan on having a career. I don’t think we need to exclude marriage from our discussion with the young women, just expand it to include careers, etc..
    Carys, you are very articulate and interesting. I hope you are included on more podcasts.
    Gina, great interview. Looking forward to more.

    1. Kevin

      I’ll second your hope for more interviews with Carys, Beth. Mormon Stories Book Club, take note. A dozen Mormon blogs and podcasts would love to have you on,Carys. Do you know Jana Riess? Another brilliant, articulate gal with a background in literary review who would genuinely love to interact with you and explore your book.

  2. Pingback: This Month in Mormon Literature, August 2014 | Dawning of a Brighter Day

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