#IDTP19 Shortlist Evening

shortlist

Back in February I was delighted to blog about the 2019 International Dylan Thomas Award longlist in a post you can read here.

Yesterday I was honoured to attend an evening at the British Library in London where, along with attendees like former Archbishop of Canterbury Rt. Hon Dr Rowan Williams, I listened to the six shortlisted authors reading from their books and answering questions about their writing. I would like to thank Midas PR and Kate Appleton in particular for the invitation.

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The evening began with a superb performance by Guy Marsterson of Dylan Thomas’ Holiday Memory taken from Quite Early One Morning. It made me remember why I love Thomas’s work so much and Guy’s wonderful Welsh accent brought the words to life beautifully. My Welsh husband (whose shining head can be seen in the photo below) said afterwards that he now understood the power of Dylan Thomas and wondered why he’d never studied his works at school in South Wales.

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We were then treated to wonderful readings from each of the shortlisted authors with Sarah Perry in a recorded message from Aukland. If you click on the book titles you’ll find more about them and buy links.

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First was American-Ghanaian writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (27) with his debut short story collection Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK)) which explores what it’s like to grow up as a black male in America, and whose powerful style of writing has been likened to George Saunders.

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Next Zoe Gilbert (39) read from Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing) which was developed from her fascination in ancient folklore and the resurgence of nature writing. She has previously won the Costa Short Story Award in 2014.

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Then we were then treated to British-Sri-Lankan debut novelist, Guy Gunaratne (34) reading from In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline), longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards.

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Louisa Hall (36) read next from her fascinating book Trinity (Ecco) which tackles the complex life of the Father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer through seven fictional characters.

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With a recording from Aukland we then heard Sarah Perry (39) who has been shortlisted for the Prize this time for Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail), one of The Observer’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2018, and a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.

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Last, and by no means least, came Zimbabwean debut novelistNovuyo Rosa Tshuma (30) with her wildly inventive and darkly humorous novel House of Stone (Atlantic Books) which reveals the mad and glorious death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of modern Zimbabwe.

A question and answer session followed and I was delighted to get the chance to ask the authors how writing their books had affected them as individuals.

I have no idea who will win the International Dylan Thomas Award tonight when Swansea University announce the result but I certainly have a favourite amongst the books after last night. I’m not telling you which one though!

Good luck to all six brilliant nominees.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

I’m absolutely thrilled to be starting off the launch celebrations for The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater, not least because I shall be interviewing Carol all about the book at my local Deepings Literary Festival in just over a week’s time! My enormous thanks to both Carol and Sriya Varadharajan for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. This was one book I had to break my blog tour sabbatical for!

It has been my pleasure to review Carol’s The Forgotten Summer here. I also loved her story The Lost Girl which I not only reviewed here, but about which I was delighted to interview Carol on Linda’s Book Bag here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff is published today, 16th May 2019, by Penguin and is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades. 

My Review of The House on the Edge of the Cliff

Grace’s past may not be as far behind her as she thought.

Gosh. What a textured and multi-layered story Carol Drinkwater has wrought in The House on the Edge of the Cliff. The story tracks back and forth in time making its structure remind me of the ebb and flow of the tide that so mesmerises Grace in the south of France. The structure and time scale are fascinating because there is a real sense of the way the past makes us who we are in the present so that there’s a compelling sociological element to the story. I loved the fact that I had no idea how The House on the Edge of the Cliff might finally resolve itself and Carol Drinkwater kept me guessing throughout. Her writing is seductive so that I had to keep reading to see what happened next.

With a sweeping love story at its heart, The House on the Edge of the Cliff explores the nature of obsession, guilt, betrayal and history in a manner that scoops up the reader and makes them wonder just what might happen if their own past reappeared. I found the Parisian setting of 1968 fascinating and Grace’s theatrical background allowed me to experience a world completely unfamiliar to me in a vivid and captivating manner. I thought the iterative image of drama and theatre was so fitting to a book where identity is fluid, unsettling and complicated. In addition, the cultural references to contemporary history, people, music and politics made The House on Edge of the Cliff a truly immersive activity. Indeed, I found reading The House on the Edge of the Cliff felt a bit like lifting the lid on an animated memory box, bringing all kinds of connotations and experiences into the effect it had on me.

I love the multi-faceted quality of Carol Drinkwater’s writing style. A smattering of French lends authenticity to The House on the Edge of the Cliff, but it is her attention to detail, the descriptions of nature, heat, the sea and food that make the narrative sensuous and luxurious. The author’s love for France shines through her writing. The house and France are as much characters as any of the people.

The portrait of Grace is superb. Her development from selfish sybarite to mature woman feels completely natural so that whilst I didn’t much like her to begin with, I felt an affinity with her. Grace’s narrative voice is so affecting and very conversational as if she is speaking directly to the reader. There’s a wistful, melancholic tone that makes her story feel confessional and draws in the reader so that they experience her emotions with her. I can’t say too much about some of the other characters without revealing the plot; the men in Grace’s life have an important impact on her but you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out why!

The House on the Edge of the Cliff feels mature, complex and atmospheric. I thought it was sinuous and compelling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and really recommend it.

About Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater c Michel Noll

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. She is also the author of over twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the Olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route.

You can follow Carol on Twitter @Carol4OliveFarm and visit her website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick

the path to the sea

I’m thrilled to have received a surprise copy of The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick in return for an honest review and would like to extend my enormous thanks to Joe Thomas at Harper Collins for sending me a copy. Liz has been a favourite author for years and I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve reviewed one of her books since I began blogging.

Published by Harper Collins imprint HQ on 6th June 2019, The Path to the Sea is available for pre-order through the links here.

The Path to the Sea

the path to the sea

Sometimes going home is just the beginning…

Boskenna, the beautiful, imposing house standing on the Cornish cliffs, means something different to each of the Trewin women.

For Joan, as a glamorous young wife in the 1960s, it was a paradise where she and her husband could entertain and escape a world where no one was quite what they seemed – a world that would ultimately cost their marriage and end in tragedy.

Diana, her daughter, still dreams of her childhood there – the endless blue skies and wide lawns, book-filled rooms and parties, the sound of the sea at the end of the coastal path – even though the family she adored was shattered there.

And for the youngest, broken-hearted Lottie, heading home in the August traffic, returning to Boskenna is a welcome escape from a life gone wrong in London, but will mean facing a past she’d hoped to forget.

As the three women gather in Boskenna for a final time, the secrets hidden within the beautiful old house will be revealed in a summer that will leave them changed for ever.

My Review of The Path to the Sea

Secrets of the past echo in the present as Diana and Lottie head home to Joan.

The Path to the Sea is just fabulous. I loved every word. Liz Fenwick held me entranced throughout to the extent that I thought about the characters and events when I wasn’t reading, couldn’t wait to get back to the story and yet didn’t want it to end. This is glorious storytelling at its very best.

I love the manner in which Liz Fenwick evokes a sense of place. Cornwall and Boskenna House are as much a living presence as any of the people so that there is a cinematic feeling. Everything from sea salt on skin, through agapanthus flowering in borders, to the taste of brandy adds richness and texture to an already captivating read. The attention to detail is so deftly written that it feels as beautifully smooth and polished as the sea-glass on the beach, bringing The Path to the Sea alive in the reader’s mind.

I thought the plot was wonderful. There’s deep, deep love, intrigue and guilt beating at the very heart of the narrative in a way that I found spell-binding. The blending of events in 1962 and 2018 is superb, with a sense of history and politics underpinning a very personal and touching story so that I could feel the emotions physically in my own body. I’m desperate to say more about the imagery but I can’t spoil the story for other readers. Just believe me when I say Liz Fenwick transports the reader to her time and place completely. It’s the poise of her writing that has such an incredible effect. The party at Boskenna has a glamour that is balanced and complemented by the more ordinary aspects of life in 2018. There are surprises too that make The Path to the Sea such a satisfying and riveting read.

Much as I thought the plot was outstanding, it is the characters who entranced me most. Joan, Diana and Lottie are so distinct and yet in many ways are so similar that what happens to them touched my heart. Their interactions, their guilt, their omissions – all combined to sweep me into their lives so that now I’ve finished reading The Path to the Sea I can’t let them go. They are reverberating in my mind.

I don’t feel I’ve done justice to The Path to the Sea. It is a phenomenal read that I adored because Liz Fenwick transported me to her world so completely I forgot my own time and place. I didn’t just read The Path to the Sea, I lived it and feel bereft now I’ve finished reading it. It is, quite simply, wonderful.

About Liz Fenwick

liz fenwick

Liz Fenwick was born in Massachusetts and after nine international moves she’s back in the United Kingdom with her husband and a mad cat. Liz made her first trip to Cornwall in 1989 and bought her home there seven years later. Her heart is forever in Cornwall, creating new stories.

You can follow Liz on Twitter @liz_fenwick, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

Cover Reveal: Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

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Having so enjoyed The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor, my review of which you can find here, I am thrilled to welcome Jennie back to Linda’s Book Bag today as we reveal her latest book, Not Having It All.

Jennie has also previously appeared on the blog when she wrote a fabulous guest post about the highs and lows leading to her novel Blind Side. You’ll find that post here.

However, today is all about Not Having It All so let’s find out all about the book:

Not Having It All

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Neuroscientist Bea Hudson fears she is a bad mother and that her career will be thwarted by family life. When her husband suspects Bea of having an affair with her best friend, a chain of events is triggered, leading to a crisis in Bea’s life.

Bea Hudson, a neuropsychologist living in Godalming, is struggling to cope with the challenging behaviour of her obsessive husband Kurt and their disruptive four-year-old daughter Fran. On top of this, her boss is pressuring her to get results from her research. Bea has her work cut out.

Things come to a head when Kurt goes away on an extended business assignment. While sacking staff and drinking heavily, Kurt’s insecurities run amok and he becomes convinced that Bea’s close friend Madeleine is seducing his wife and unduly influencing his daughter.

Meanwhile, childless artist Madeleine sees her friend torn between the demands of work and offers to help with Fran. But when she reveals a startling desire to her unsympathetic therapist Mr Rowley, he advises her to focus on the attention of Colin, a man she met in a lift.

Can Bea survive the demands of her career and the turmoil in her marriage without having a breakdown?

Can Madeleine survive Kurt’s anger and find happiness with Colin?

And can love survive marriage, middle-age, alcohol and ambition?

Not Having It All is about a scientist torn between her stalling career and the demands of her family. With themes of trust, deception and obsession, it is a mercilessly playful take on modern friendships, relationships and family life.

(I have a feeling Not Having It All is going to be a book many of us can relate to!)

Not Having It All will be published by Bloodhound on 28th May 2019 and will be available for pre-order from May 21st.

About Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor lives in London and has Irish roots. During a long trip overseas she obtained a Masters in Journalism and began her writing career as a journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. Her debut novel Blind Side was published by Unbound in 2016. In January 2018 her short story The Gift was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. Her poetry has appeared in many UK and overseas publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. She sings in a chamber choir.

You can find out more by following Jennie on Twitter @Jennie_Ensor, finding her on Facebook and visiting her website.

A Deadly Combination: A Guest Post by Robert Crouch, Author of No More Lies

No More Lies - Robert Crouch - book cover

I know I’m not supposed to be doing blog tours at the moment, but Robert Crouch has been such a good friend to Linda’s Book Bag and as I live next door to a retired chief environmental health officer (EHO) I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this celebration of No More Lies when Caroline Vincent, tour organiser got in touch to invite me to participate.

It’s a while since I ‘stayed in’ with Robert Crouch in a post you can read here, and Robert has been kind enough to provide a guest post (here) shortly after his Fisher’s Fables was released and another here to celebrate No Bodies.

No More Lies is available for purchase here.

No More Lies

No More Lies - Robert Crouch - book cover

Kent Fisher gets more than he bargained for when Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman enlists his help with a ten year old murder. She’s on a mission and needs a big case to put her career back on track.

And they don’t come much bigger than Miles Birchill, Downland’s wealthiest and most divisive resident.

Not for the first time, Kent has doubts about the case, forcing him to make choices. But who do you trust when everyone has something to hide?

Caught in the middle, he has no alternative but to solve the murder, unaware that his every move is being watched.

The Kent Fisher novels offer a fresh and contemporary reworking of the classic whodunit and murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie.

A Deadly Combination – a guest post by Robert Crouch

I’d love to know how readers react when they discover my sleuth is an Environmental Health Officer, or EHO.

Are they intrigued, like the literary agent who once read one of my early novels? She wanted to know how an EHO would go about investigating a murder.

I wondered that too. I mean, you don’t pop down to your local council offices, ask to speak to an EHO and report a murder, do you? And someone who works for the local council hardly sounds glamorous, right?

Don’t be too hasty.

Do you know what EHOs do for a living? Aren’t they the people who check restaurants kitchens for hygiene?

They do. They close them down if they’re unhygienic. They can take the owners to court and prosecute them, which involves gathering evidence, interviewing suspects and witnesses, and putting a case together.

Just like the police – following the same rules of investigation and evidence, using many of the same techniques.

EHO are trained law enforcement officers. Okay, they don’t deal with murder, but they have many of the skills and attributes needed. They’re also at the heart of the community with contacts in most public bodies and access to all kinds of information and intelligence.

When it comes to dealing with health and safety in the workplace, EHOs have powers of entry that exceed those of the police. EHOs can also compel people to give evidence, especially where someone has died as a result of an accident at work.

EHOs investigate outbreaks of food poisoning, caused by organisms like E coli O157, which can kill vulnerable people. EHOs deal with complex environmental issues like noise and smoke pollution right through to people living in filthy and verminous premises.

They tackle landlords who provide substandard homes and dwellings.They licence zoos, riding establishments, kennels, tattooing and caravan sites to protect animals and animals, to ensure good standards.

I’ve covered all these areas during my working life as an EHO and hope to give readers an insight into some of them in the Kent Fisher series.

No two days were ever the same. The range of issues and people I dealt with were both vast and intriguing. Most summers, I had so many cases on the go, I couldn’t keep up.

And then a report would come through of a workplace fatality and priorities changed in the blink of an eye. A young boy drowned in a swimming pool at a camp. A worker crushed when he overturned the forklift truck he was operating. An elderly resident fell down a lift shaft in a care home.

Nothing quite prepares you for a fatality, but the professional in you takes over. Like the police, you have an investigation to conduct. You have to find out what happened and why. Ultimately, you have to determine whether laws were broken and by whom.

That’s why I couldn’t help thinking about murder while I drove around my district in the beautiful South Downs of East Sussex. I knew as an EHO I had many of the skills needed to investigate a murder. And the more I thought about it, the more inspired I became.

It couldn’t be a straightforward murder, of course. The police would deal with that. What about a murder disguised as a fatal workplace accident? That became No Accident– the novel that introduced Kent Fisher to the world of crime fiction.

It’s a straightforward murder mystery that pays homage to the classic whodunit. The story owes more to Agatha Christie and Colin Dexter than environmental health, but it allowed Kent Fisher to solve a murder and become a local hero.

Since then, Kent’s investigated missing wives and an old rogue with an unsavoury past. Environmental health features in every story, whether it’s a child at death’s door due to an E coli infection, mobile caterers, dodgy hotel kitchens and standards in care homes.

In the latest novel, No More Lies, the police seek Kent’s professional help as an EHO with a 10 year old cold case. They have an unidentified body with links to a restaurant he once closed down.There’s a second link to someone close, increasing the personal stakes.

It’s another case of environmental health meets murder in a deadly combination that offers readers something unique and distinctive in crime fiction.

(I’ll have to introduce you to my neighbour Robert. You can swap stories!)

About Robert Crouch

robert

Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.

At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.

Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.

Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.

You can find Robert on Goodreads and Facebook and visit his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @robertcrouchuk.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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My Life by David Jason

my life

I’m delighted that this month I’ve actually found time to read My Life by David Jason, the book chosen by the U3A book group to which I belong.

Published by Penguin imprint Arrow on 5th June 2014, My Life is available for purchase through the links here.

My Life

my life

Born the son of a Billingsgate market porter at the height of the Second World War, David Jason spent his early life dodging bombs and bullies, both with impish good timing. Giving up on an unloved career as an electrician, he turned his attention to acting and soon, through a natural talent for making people laugh, found himself working with the leading lights of British comedy in the 1960s and ’70s: Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Bob Monkhouse and Ronnie Barker. Barker would become a mentor to David, leading to hugely successful stints in Porridge and Open All Hours.

It wasn’t until 1981, kitted out with a sheepskin jacket, a flat cap, and a clapped-out Reliant Regal, that David found the part that would capture the nation’s hearts: the beloved Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in Only Fools and Horses. Never a one-trick pony, he had an award-winning spell as TV’s favourite detective Jack Frost, took a country jaunt as Pop Larkin in the Darling Buds of May, and even voiced a crime-fighting cartoon rodent in the much-loved children’s show Danger Mouse.

But life hasn’t all been so easy: from missing out on a key role in Dad’s Army to nearly drowning in a freak diving accident, David has had his fair share of ups and downs, and has lost some of his nearest and dearest along the way.

David’s is a touching, funny and warm-hearted story, which charts the course of his incredible five decades at the top of the entertainment business. He’s been a shopkeeper and a detective inspector, a crime-fighter and a market trader, and he ain’t finished yet. As Del Boy would say, it’s all cushty.

My Review of My Life

A first person account of the life of one of Britain’s most well known television actors.

I rarely watch television or visit the cinema and I’m not remotely interested in celebrity lifestyle so when My Life by David Jason was chosen for the U3A book group to which I belong my heart sank. I was completely wrong to have this reaction. My Life is a hugely entertaining and engagingly written book that I found totally absorbing and interesting.

I found My Life quite funny and chuckled aloud on several occasions. I thought the tone of the book showed David Jason as surprisingly honest and self-deprecating, especially in his assessment of his reluctance to commit in relationships and in the references to his physical stature. He writes with a wit and intelligence that makes My Life a pleasure to read and the asides to the reader make it feel as if he’s simply talking through his past with a friend. I very much enjoyed the mini chapter summaries which are frequently quirkily deadpan and surprising such as ‘How I delivered Bob Monkhouse’s babies’ or ‘Some questionable behaviour with bongos’.

I particularly enjoyed David Jason’s obvious affection for some of those he’d worked with like Ronnie Barker, and his sometimes blunt assessment of how he got on with others!

I think what appealed to me most was the trip down memory lane that My Life afforded me. I remembered the programmes from my childhood and the actors in them that David Jason writes about with such clarity and with frequently surprising anecdotes. His prose certainly made me feel nostalgic, especially his reference to Apethorpe Hall as I spent the first eight years of my life in that village, my father working at the hall, so all kinds of wonderful memories were kindled outside the actual content of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed My Life. David Jason has managed to illustrate that missing out the autobiographical genre from my reading means I’m missing out on memory, entertainment and enjoyment. I’ll be including more memoir in future!

About David Jason

david jason

Sir David Jason was born in 1940 in North London. His acting career has been long and varied: from his theatre work in the West End to providing voices for Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows, Danger Mouse and The BFG; and from Open All Hours and The Darling Buds of May to his starring roles as Detective Inspector Frost in A Touch of Frost and, of course, Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in Only Fools and Horses. He lives with his wife, Gill, and their daughter, Sophie, in Buckinghamshire.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

call me star girl

I’ve been a huge fan of Orenda Books for ages but when Louise Beech’s Call Me Star Girl arrived I was especially delighted as I love Louise Beech both as a writer and as a person. I’d like to extend my incredible gratitude to Karen at Orenda for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

The first time Louise featured on Linda’s Book Bag was back in 2015 when I reviewed How To Be Brave here and I can’t believe it’s 18 months since I read and reviewed Maria In The Moon, here. I still have Louise’s The Mountain in My Shoe and The Lion Tamer Who Lost waiting patiently on my TBR pile!

Call Me Star Girl was published by Orenda Books on 18th April and is available for purchase through the links here.

Call Me Star Girl

call me star girl

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

My Review of Call Me Star Girl

Stella is about to broadcast her last radio programme.

I had heard exceptionally good things about Louise Beech’s Call Me Star Girl, but nothing quite prepared me for what a magnificent book this is. I absolutely devoured it because it held me completely spellbound. The quality of the prose is glorious. Whilst the writing is poetic, dramatic and striking it is also incredibly intimate so that the reader feels complicit in the action and seduced by Stella and Elizabeth in a way that is almost visceral.

As well as being a captivating thriller, Call Me Star Girl is a searing portrait of obsession and love at its most profound. I knew from reading other of Louise Beech’s books that she can write with passion and emotion, but for me, Call Me Star Girl surpasses her other work through its exquisite tension and depth. There are extremes here that feel utterly right for the characters and plot.

And what a plot this is. Baldly it is an account of a few hours in a radio station on Stella’s last evening, but my goodness the structure is effective. The breaks in the narrative for news bulletins, phone calls and flashbacks coupled with the time counting past as the evening progresses made me feel tense, with my pulse racing. I don’t think I blinked much as I read. I didn’t want to miss a beat. The cinematic themes and imagery running through the narrative and the staccato sentence structure to the endings of most chapters simply removed my free will. I had to read on. I even found tears slipping down my cheeks at one point and I hadn’t even realised I was crying because I was so immersed!

Reading Call Me Star Girl was as if I were listening to Stella broadcasting to me alone, so clear was her voice in my head. I completely forgot that Stella is a literary creation and not a living, breathing human. The way in which she is a product of both her nature and nurture has left my mind in a whirl since I finished the book and I wonder how I might behave in her position.

Call Me Star Girl feels as if Louise Beech has poured her own soul into her writing so that my own soul feels touched and altered as a result. This truly is an outstanding read because Call Me Star Girl is potent, affecting and disturbing. I thought it was brilliant.

About Louise Beech

Louise Beech

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Bravewas a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019.

Louise’s short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

You can follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseWriter and find her on Facebook or visit her website for more details.