I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Clare Fisher’s debut novel All the Good Things.
All the Good Things will be published by Viking, Penguin on 1st June 2017 and is available for purchase here.
All the Good Things
What if you did a very bad thing… but that wasn’t the end of the story?
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life.
So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?
My Review of All the Good Things
Beth has done something dreadful and part of her prison therapy is to write lists of good things.
What a touching and scary read All the Good Things is. It’s touching because we see right into the very soul of dysfunctional and mentally ill Beth and her mother. It’s scary because what happens to them and the crime Beth has committed could actually happen to any one of us. I thought the dropping of the ‘any’ part of Bethany’s name highlighted this possibility. Her faults, her challenges, her triumphs and disasters are a hair’s breadth away for any one of us.
All the Good Things has a really clever structure. Within each of the list elements Beth writes is woven her back story, her childhood and what makes her who she is. Clare Fisher makes the reader confront Beth’s issues with her and understand that anyone we might judge in society, such as a woman in prison, is a real person with genuine struggles of their own. Beth is flawed, complex, intelligent and a complete disaster. The first person narrative with its breezy and realistic tone makes the story all the more real. I loved the way the text physically breaks down in structure at the end to reflect the actions happening in the story. The only element I was less keen on was some of the language in the reports in the file Beth reads. However, I think that might be because reading it made me feel quite uncomfortable.
I’m not sure All the Good Things is a book to enjoy as it paints at times a quite bleak view of the world, but it does have hope and optimism too and is a story that penetrates the soul of the reader. It is a book that educates and touches the reader so that I know it will resonate in my mind for a very long time. In hearing about Beth I was reminded of some of the students I have taught in the past and I know just how realistic her tale is. Life can be brutal, devastating and challenging and Clare Fisher presents Beth’s version of it with compassion and humanity. This is hugely affecting writing. Outstanding.
About Clare Fisher
Clare Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, Clare completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. An avid observer of the diverse area of south London in which she grew up, Clare’s writing is inspired by her long-standing interest in social exclusion and the particular ways in which it affects vulnerable women and girls. All The Good Things is her first novel.
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