Although I have been forcing myself not to accept new books for review as I can hardly fit into my home because of the vast number of volumes awaiting my attention, when Lauren got in touch from Faber and Faber to ask if I would like to read The Rapture by Claire McGlasson, all my resolve flew out of the window. My enormous thanks to Lauren for sending me a copy of The Rapture in return for an honest review.
Dilys is a devoted member of The Panacea Society, populated almost entirely by virtuous single ladies. When she strikes up a friendship with Grace, a new recruit, God finally seems to be smiling upon her. The friends become closer as they wait for the Lord to return to their very own Garden of Eden, and Dilys feels she has found the right path at last.
But Dilys is wary of their leader’s zealotry and suspicious of those who would seem to influence her for their own ends. As her feelings for Grace bud and bloom, the Society around her begins to crumble. Faith is supplanted by doubt as both women come to question what is true and fear what is real.
My Review of The Rapture
Based on real people and events, Dilys is part of The Panacea Society.
When I think of Bedford it conjures almost nothing in my mind, but what a magnificent debut Claire McGlasson has produced in the Bedford setting of The Rapture. I will never visit the town with the same flippant attitude again. The Rapture is a beautifully written, immaculately researched and vividly told story based on real life events that I could hardly believe. Claire McGlasson presents totally convincingly the events that could be happening behind the doors of any suburban street right now and, although the last Bedford member of the Panacea Society has died, this story has salutary freshness and relevance for our lives today, making it a stunning read.
I loved the intermingling of real transcripts, tracts and letters amongst the fictionalised aspects of the narrative because they lent authenticity but also added to the incredulous feeling I had as I read. As the book progressed I became more and more tense the more powerful Emily became until I could hardly bear to read on and yet I couldn’t stop myself as I was desperate to know what happened. I was frequently open-mouthed and wide eyed and I experienced a wide range of emotions as I read, from pity to rage. I can’t say much about the plot of The Rapture as I don’t want to spoil the book for others, but even if it is based on real events it has some impactful surprises along the way.
The characters of Emily and Octavia left me reeling and the fact they are based on real people made me astounded. I so wanted Dilys to escape the Panacea Society and the reach of Octavia and Emily. I thought her building relationship with Grace (who couldn’t be more aptly named) was sensitively and maturely created so that I was entirely on their side throughout. Dilys in particular is fabulous because we get to see inside her mind as well as witness her external behaviours. I found myself speaking to her to try to affect her actions which actually made me quite uncomfortable as I realised what an impact the book was having on me!
In The Rapture Claire McGlasson makes wickedly insightful observations tinged with a dark humour that had me laughing aloud at the same time as feeling unsettled by some quite disturbing undercurrents. There is, as the author explores, a fine line between passion and insanity, and reading The Rapture made me question just who decides the parameters of society and how blindly we may adhere to them.
The Rapture is a sublime read. When I began reading I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but within a very few pages I was entranced. Historical, compelling, educating, but above all else a brilliant story, I thought The Rapture was an outstanding debut. I really recommend it.
About Claire McGlasson
Claire McGlasson is a journalist who works for ITV News and enjoys the variety of life on the road with a TV camera. She lives in Cambridgeshire. The Rapture is her debut novel.
You can follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireMcGlasson for more information.