Things Are Not What They Seem…

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The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

In the past week it has finally struck me that I will not be returning to uni ever again. So there has been a lot of moping and consumption of chocolate as it will no longer be acceptable to bake cookies at 11 o’clock at night or to fall asleep on the sofa watching Tarzan after a night out.

Unable to deal with the reality of this I have found myself reading lots of late. I have just finished The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish – another book which I have been sent to review by the fantastic people at Little Brown.

I had previously read one of Candlish’s other novels – Since I Don’t Have You, whilst I was at college but her current offering is a world away from the tear jerker in Santorini.

The Disappearance of Emily Marr is set in the picturesque Ill de Ré in France and follows the lives of strangers Tabby Dewhurst and ‘Emmie’ who are running away from their unhappy pasts. The two first cross paths when the penniless and homeless Tabby breaks into Emmie’s home. A friendship is soon formed as Tabby takes residence in the run down house and the two share a mutual unspoken bond over their exiles.

However it is not long before Emmie’s past soon becomes her present as the inquisitive Tabby is determined to learn why her new found friend is hell bent on becoming as anonymous as possible. She soon learns of her past – an affair with a respected married man, a tragic accident and a media frenzy which has forced Emmie to become a recluse. However Emmie’s tale is not what it seems and Candlish produces an outcome I could have never even imagined.

Just when I thought that plots were becoming staid and repetitive Candlish turns this assumption on its head. The novel is completely original and unlike anything I had read before, I had to re-read the fatal truth numerous times to make sure I was reading it correctly! The protagonists and antagonists are completely juxtaposed by the end in a twist which rivals Gone Girl.

Candlish’s two stranded narrative had me gripped from the first chapter as she has created heroines who are strong willed, yet underneath their exterior are emotionally scarred from former relationships. She has the ability to keep the reader hooked without hinting at the outcome of the novel. It is a book which will have you thinking about identity and the media long after you have read the final page.

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Can I go to Sark please?

 

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The Last Kings of Sark – Rosa Rankin-Gee

I feel I am now on the way to being a fully-fledged blogger thanks to the people at Little, Brown who have sent me the uncorrected bound proof of a novel set for release in November. Exciting!

The novel in question is the debut from Rosa Rankin-Gee , who has already caused quite a stir in the literary world by winning the Shakespeare and Company’s international Paris Literary Prize as well as being named in the top 75 of Esquire magazine’s ’75 Brilliant Brits’ in 2010. From reading her novel The Last Kings of Sark it is easy to see why she has gained these accolades.

The novel follows the journey of Jude (a girl, not a boy – very important!) who travels to Sark to be a tutor for a teenaged boy named Pip over the summer. At first the household to which she is employed is unsettled and hostile. It is not helped by the dark and mysterious figure of his mother – Esmé – who’s cold and silent nature casts an unwelcoming shadow over all individual’s residing in her house. It’s only when we are introduced to Sofi – the confident, foul mouthed free spirited cook – that Jude realises her life will never be the same again.

When Pip’s father is called away on business Jude, Sofi and Pip have the type of freedom that they could have only ever imagined. From drinking and smoking at noon, to cavorting with smugglers and sleeping on the beach this book incorporates the essence of all things free, summery and forbidden.

The imagery Rankin-Gee creates is astounding, never have I read a novel where I could hear, see and even smell everything the characters could. I am expecting big things from this author. She brilliantly captures that one moment of time we have all had or wished we could have had – the notion of not having a care in the world and the contentment and freedom to think that. I could imagine the character’s summer in a nostalgic sort of montage played out in slow motion against a soundtrack scored by The XX.

I would thoroughly recommend Rankin –Gee’s novel to people of all ages. She brilliantly reminds us that things cannot stay perfect forever and even the best things in life have consequences.

The Rebirth of Rowling

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The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling

 

I had read some mixed reviews for The Casual Vacancy, so I thought it was about high time I read the book for myself (albeit a year since its release).

I did not want to be one of those reviewers who inevitably tries to compare The Casual Vacancy to the Harry Potter series but it really is worlds away from the boy wizard and his pals. All I will say is the stark contrast in content and setting really proves what a diverse author Rowling is.

The novel is set in the fictional town of Pagford and follows the demise of the Parish Council after Councillor Barry Fairbrother unexpectedly dies. His death affects all the inhabitants in the village who go to great lengths for power and to make their voice heard.

From reading the blurb I thought it was going to be a very political novel. Whilst politics does drive the plot forward Rowling does not approach it in a dull or dismal way. Instead, she cleverly intertwines all the individual’s lives – something I love in a book or film – which makes for a very fast paced novel. She has captured the essence of village life where everyone knows everybody’s business.

I loved the fact that there was no main character; instead there were ten to fifteen all competing for the reader’s attention. All were so different from each other due to their unique personalities and problems of their own.

Most of my teachers and lectures have condemned Rowling’s writing by saying it is bland and unimaginative. In all honesty I do not think her tone and use of words is unique but there is something about her use of plots and characters which makes me unable to stop reading her novels. The fact she wants to break away from the series which made her the biggest author in the world shows that she is no one trick pony.  In my opinion that is the sign of a talented author.

With thanks to Little, Brown for letting me have copy of the book.