Thursday, 6 July 2017

Louise's Review: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Reviewed by Louise Wykes

Bo Luxton has it all - a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. 

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. 

When they meet at a writers' retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops ...

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

This review could be summed up in one sentence: Exquisite by name, exquisite in content and execution.  I really cannot believe that this is the author’s debut psychological thriller as it is an expertly crafted and beautifully drawn thriller which completely blew my socks off.

The book opens with a chapter written by as un-yet known narrator – all we know is that they are in a prison for women in Yorkshire and one of the mysteries of the book is to discover who the narrator is which makes for a tantalising first chapter.  Then we are immersed into the inner lives in alternate chapters of two women: Alice Dark and Bo Luxton.  These women meet at a residential writing retreat lead by Bo who is a famous, author (married with two girls) who is wanting to discover and cultivate new writing talent.  Alice is a 26 year old woman who yearns to make use of her literary degree instead of having to work a humdrum life trying to earn enough money to just get by in life.  She sees this retreat as something that will ultimately change her life and she is immediately caught up in the allure and charm of Bo who seems to really think that Alice has a talent that is worth nurturing.

Ultimately the rest of the book is laid out with Alice’s version of events that happen after their whirlwind meeting and then the same version of events are narrated by Bo and I love how the author cleverly invites the reader to try and work out for themselves which version is the “truth” and poses the question if there is actually a truth that exists outside the characters’ own interpretation of what happened.  For some people – ambiguity like this isn’t wanted and although in my own life I like things to be clear cut with boundaries, in my fictional life I am more than happy to explore the grey area of ambiguity which this book did in a clever and entertaining way.

This book completely consumed me for the whole time I read it and even now after finishing it I keep going back in my mind to think and reflect on ultimately what happened. If you need a deliciously dark narrative with wonderful character development then this is the thrilling book you need to put on your Summer to read list.

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