Cathy Stonehouse was a teenager in the UK when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Opening salvos in April 1982 would go on to become a 74-day war over who owned the British-held territory in the southernmost reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Stonehouse, a young peace activist, was deeply affected by living in a country at war, one that seemed to happen only on television. Thirty years later, she began work on The Causes. This complex and unsettling debut novel follows the young Argentine conscript José Ramirez from his torture on the bleak plains of the Falklands, back into his childhood in pre-revolution Argentina, and forward across continents as he grapples with the loss of his father and his country as he knew it. Carlos Ramirez is taken by force from his apartment, leaving behind only a pair of broken glasses. His son, Jose, is left with unanswerable questions that become threatening after Jose is sent to the Malvinas to fight an impossible war. Mysterious, gripping, poetic and magic-realist, The Causes is a love story for a threatened planet, set in Argentina, Spain, the UK, and the South Atlantic.
"Cathy Stonehouse's debut collection contains one heartbreaking situation after another: sexual abuse, mental illness, loneliness, and death pervade the book. However, Stonehouse's spare prose reveals the hidden layers of her vulnerable characters with great precision, making it difficult to turn away. "Keeping Mum" is split into three separate perspectives -- Falklands War veteran Kev, his mother, and his father. Kev's perspective is the most devastating as he teeters between jumbled war memories and lucidity. Stonehouse describes his battle with PTSD in a way that is simultaneously horrible and lovely: "I don't know if I am alive anymore, or if I'm one of those bags of canvas filled with blood and bone fragments they're calling brave."Despite the sombre material, Stonehouse can be darkly funny. In "Child Abuse," she describes an animal psychic who takes care of a Ritalin-popping dog that does "pawlates" and takes private yoga classes. And Gaynor, the confused kid mourning her mother's death in "A Special Sound," repeatedly recites the incorrect words to what she calls the "necklace prayer": "Hey old Mary, full of grace, the law deals with thee. Blessed art thou, a monk's woman, and, blessed tart, the Fruit-of-thy-Loom, Jesus."Stonehouse also manages to sneak snippets of hope into the pervading darkness. Women abused, used, or rescued by men hatch independence plans. Some even succeed in breaking free. A tired, disappointed single mother realizes she doesn't have to live in her ex-husband's shadow. A teenaged girl manages to escape the home of her best friend's killer. All are surrounded by ghosts, but in every case, life goes on."--Chelsea Murray, a reviewer in Toronto.