My enormous thanks to Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Press for a copy of All That Was Lost by Alison May in return for an honest review. I have previously welcomed Alison May to Linda’s Book Bag with a fantastic guest post about Shakespeare as the ultimate romance writer that you can read here.
However, All That Was Lost marks a change in Alison’s writing and it is the first of her books that I have reviewed.
All That Was Lost will be published on 6th September 2018 by Legend Press and is available for pre-order here.
All That Was Lost
In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.
Leo is the journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. Struggling to reconcile the demands of his family, his grief for his lost son, and his need to understand his own background, Leo becomes more and more frustrated at Patrice’s refusal to open up.
Because behind closed doors, Patrice is hiding more than one secret. And it seems that now, her past is finally catching up with her.
My Review of All That Was Lost
Celebrity medium Patrice finds she can’t see everything that might be about to happen in her life.
I am used to the concept of Alison May as a romantic novelist so I wasn’t sure what to expect from All That Was Lost, but it is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.
As the cast list is quite narrow, having a focus mainly on Patrice, with Leo and Louise to a lesser extent, there’s a real sense of understanding and knowing the characters. Their lives interweave in a spellbinding way that ensnares the reader and makes them want to know what will happen to them. That said, the more peripheral people like Barney add a colour and depth that adds definition to the main characters, especially to Patrice who is such a magnificent creation. She is deceptive on so many levels, including to herself, and yet she is a heartbreaking individual too because Alison May gradually reveals her to the reader in such a convincing manner. I’m still worrying about Patrice after having finished reading!
The structure of All That Was Lost is so clever. As the narrative reaches its denouement in the present, the 1960s past is increasingly brought into focus, giving clarity and empathy. Alison May shines a very bright light onto the 1960s era so that society is conveyed painfully sharply through the microcosm of Pat’s family. I thought this was such skilful writing. There’s a fabulous story here that is all absorbing and engaging, but more important I think, are the themes explored. We see first hand how our lives are manipulated and changed by others, how we can lose sight of what is important, including our own identity and how we sometimes need extremes of grief and loss to redefine us and show us who we truly are.
I thought All That Was Lost was a glorious read. I enjoyed it so much because I found it touching, compassionate and human. Magnificent!
About Alison May
Alison was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now lives in Worcester. She is a History graduate from the University of York and has a Creative Writing degree from the University of Birmingham. Alison has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and as a creative writing tutor and freelance trainer for charities and voluntary organisations.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and won their Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012 for her short story Feel the Fear which was published in the RNA’s 2014 anthology.