Title: A Single Thread

Author: Tracy Chevalier

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt.

Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone.

A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…

The Review

I have never read anything by Tracy Chevalier before. I know she had big success with The Girl with the Pearl Earring but I never got round to reading it. When I as granted the opportunity to read A Single Thread I was glad that I hadn’t read anything previous because it gave me a chance to read it in a more pure way – without comparison to other work. I wanted to see if I liked Tracy Chevalier’s writing style.

I did. I really did.

A Single Thread is the story of Violet Speedwell. In post war Britain, Violet is trying to find her own place in the world whilst trying to come to terms with heartbreaking loss. Add on a miserable matriarch of a mother and you begin to get a sense of why Violet is feeling so suffocated in her own little corner of the world.

When an opportunity arises to spread her wings and leave her current situation Violet grabs it with both hands and refuses to let go. She makes a new life for herself and along the way makes friends at a broderers group. Although life has been cruel we see Violet – at 37 – finally start to grow up.

A Single Thread is a look at many things: post World War One and the devastation that came with it, the changing roles of women, and how we assert our independence.

I loved it.

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier is available now.

For more information regarding Tracy Chevalier (@Tracy_Chevalier) please visit www.tchevalier.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollins) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

Title: How to Fail – Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong

Author: Elizabeth Day

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Based on Elizabeth Day’s hugely popular podcast, and including fascinating insights gleaned from her journalistic career of celebrity interviews, How to Fail is part memoir, part manifesto. It is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.

Including chapters on success, dating, work, sport, relationships, families and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It’s a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.

Uplifting and inspiring and rich in personal anecdote, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals. Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.

The Review

I work in a high school and one the things I wish for the students I work with is that they learn how to fail. I don’t mean that in a nasty ‘fail-your-GCSEs’ way. That would be horrible of me but I do believe that failing is a valuable life lesson.

Failing is inevitable. It is a part of life. Most importantly, it makes you resilient.

Failing is the subject of Elizabeth Day’s book How to Fail. She explores the various ways in which she herself has failed – be it simple things such as her driving test or the more bleed-all-over-the-page topics such as her marriage and not having a child. Day shows her own failures along with those of the celebrities that she has had on her podcast – How to Fail with Elizabeth Day.

It shows not only our perceptions of ourselves which is often warped and leans towards the negative but how what we deem a ‘failure’ may be something that others see success in.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is one of the best non-fiction books that I have read in 2019. Day really gets her message across to the reader. It is ok to fail.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is a very cathartic read.

How to Fail – Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Day (@elizabday) please visit www.elizabethdayonliine.co.uk.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (HarperCollinsUK@) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: In at the Deep End

Author: Kate Davies

Pages: 392 Pages

Publisher: Borough Press

The Blurb

Until recently, Julia hadn’t had sex in three years.

But now:
• a one-night stand is accusing her of breaking his penis;

  • a sexually confident lesbian is making eyes at her over confrontational modern art;
  • and she’s wondering whether trimming her pubes makes her a bad feminist.

Julia’s about to learn that she’s been looking for love – and satisfaction – in all the wrong places…

Frank, filthy and very, very funny, In at the Deep End is a brilliant debut from a major new talent.

#ImInAtTheDeepEnd

The Review

I love it when I pick up a book that I know nothing about and I am absolutely blown away by the story and indeed the story telling. That is exactly what happened when I read In at the Deep End by Kate Davies. It is unexpected, hilarious, and heartfelt.

The story focuses on Julia and her sexual awakening. She is nearly 30 and has always known she is bisexual but has yet to have a relationship with a woman. Once she does, her life changes forever.

In At the Deep End has been compared the Bridget Jones’s Diary which is a pretty fair assessment. Julia’s relationship escapades really do rival Bridget’s for their ridiculousness. However, Davies explores deeper issues too.

The story looks at manipulation, mental abuse, platonic relationships, and jealousy. This is a lot to be covered in its 392 pages.

I can honestly say that I didn’t want this book to end. I was so completely engrossed in Julia’s life that it became a pleasant distraction from my own.

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies is available now.

For more information regarding Kate Davies (@katyemdavies) please visit www.katedavieswriter.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Allegedly

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it. She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home” – no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted – and their unborn child – to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary.

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the gray areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, acknowledging the light and darkness alive in all of us.

The Review

Allegedly is one of those really intense books that messes with your mind. It focuses on Mary, a young girl who is trying to survive a group home for ex-convicts – girls – like her – who have been charged with committing serious crimes. Allegedly.

All throughout the story we are faced with this conundrum. How allegations may or may not be accurate. Whether or not the justice system is right or wrong and at what point does a person earn redemption or a second chance. It really is a lot of heavy subjects for a YA book. However, that is actually Allegedly’s strength. It doesn’t undermine young adults. It gives them a hard hitting and unique story to come to terms with and challenges the reader to have a voice, have an opinion.

Allegedly is one of the most powerful YA fiction books that I have read in a long time.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson is available now.

For more information regarding Tiffany D. Jackson (@WriteinBK) please visit www.writeinbk.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: My Absolute Darling

Author: Gabriel Tallent

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

The Review

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is an intoxicating, overwhelming, and intense novel about a young girl on the cusp of young womanhood and the claustrophobic life she leads under the firm hand of her father.

Turtle Alveston has lived alone with her father since her mother’s death. She has been sheltered from the everyday ordinary by her father and instead taught survival skills such as shooting. She is isolated and her world revolves around her insidious relationship with her dad.

My Absolute Darling is a coming of age novel in the most twisted and uncomfortable of ways. For me, the novel had an issue with pacing. For the first half I felt like it was very slow going but that did reflect the smallness and slowness of Turtle’s world. Then the story snowballed and it was the end. For a reader, it can be quite off-putting.

My Absolute Darling is a very disturbing novel. If you are planning on reading it then please be aware that there are a few triggering elements to the story.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is available now.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.