Everyone is Still Alive by Cathy Retzenbrink

It’s my very great pleasure to be part of the blog tour for Cathy Rentzenbrink’s Everyone Is Still Alive today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate and to Leanne Oliver at Orion for sending me a copy of Everyone Is Still Alive in return for an honest review.

Published by Orion imprint Phoenix on 8th July 2021, Everyone Is Still Alive is available for purchase through these links.

Everyone Is Still Alive

‘Incredibly tender’ Marian Keyes
‘A total triumph’ Nina Stibbe
‘Beautiful, moving and so funny and well-observed’ Philippa Perry

It is summer on Magnolia Road when Juliet moves into her late mother’s house with her husband Liam and their young son, Charlie. Preoccupied by guilt, grief and the juggle of working motherhood, she can’t imagine finding time to get to know the neighbouring families, let alone fitting in with them. But for Liam, a writer, the morning coffees and after-school gatherings soon reveal the secret struggles, fears and rivalries playing out behind closed doors – all of which are going straight into his new novel . . .

Juliet tries to bury her unease and leave Liam to forge these new friendships. But when the rupture of a marriage sends ripples through the group, painful home truths are brought to light. And then, one sun-drenched afternoon at a party, a single moment changes everything.

The fiction debut from Sunday Times bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink, Everyone Is Still Alive is funny and moving, intimate and wise; a novel that explores the deeper realities of marriage and parenthood and the way life thwarts our expectations at every turn.

My Review of Everyone Is Still Alive

Juliet, Liam and Charlie have moved house.

If you’re looking for a fast paced twisty thriller then look elsewhere. If, however, you’re looking for a brilliantly observed, witty, poignant and compelling insight into middle class England then Everyone Is Still Alive delivers it to perfection. This is such a wonderful book because Cathy Rentzenbrink shines a laser spotlight onto marriage and relationships in a way that resonates with the reader and, ultimately, gives them faith not only in the characters here, but in themselves and in humanity.

Other than a couple of larger events, little happens in Everyone Is Still Alive, but there’s a palpable intensity to the plot that is incredibly affecting. Cathy Rentzenbrink understands and presents human emotion with such clarity and honesty that it is impossible to read this book and not feel that your own soul has been partially exposed along with that of Juliet et al. It is the uncovering of what Joseph Conrad would term ‘the thin veneer of civilisation’ that held me gripped. In this one street of Magnolia Road live those maintaining a façade of domestic perfection with their juicers and au pairs whist quietly unravelling inside. I found this very moving.

The characters exemplify the impact of prosaic life perfectly. I think it illustrates Cathy Rentzenbrink’s quality of writing that although I loathed Liam with enough passion to want to shake him physically, by the end of Everyone Is Still Alive I realised how easily I had been manipulated into seeing him from Juliet’s perspective. I had been tricked into behaving just like the characters, judging others by appearances. I found the children in Everyone Is Still Alive scarily accurate. Their impact on their parents reinforced my relief that I chose not to have any, but at the same time as she explores the challenges of parenthood, Cathy Rentzenbrink also illustrates its joys and rewards too in a completely authentic and realistic manner.

Indeed it, it is the themes of Everyone Is Still Alive that make it such a triumph. Grief certainly comes through the death of Juliet’s mother and is the catalyst for her move to Magnolia Road, but there’s grief over broken relationships, a loss of personal identity, an inability to live up to the expectations of others and grief over what might have been that resonates throughout the intense, affecting prose. Add in the exploration of relationships, education, parenthood, friendships, career and identity and Everyone Is Still Alive becomes a kind of love song to who we are and who we want to be.

I so enjoyed Everyone Is Still Alive. It’s beautifully written, human and tender with a super sprinkling of dry wit that makes it thrum with interest. I really recommend it.

About Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink grew up in Yorkshire, spent many years in London, and now lives in Cornwall. She is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Last Act of Love, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize, and the acclaimed memoirs A Manual for Heartache and Dear ReaderEveryone Is Still Alive is her first novel.
For further information, follow Cathy in Twitter @CatRentzenbrink and find her on Instagram or Facebook.
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5 thoughts on “Everyone is Still Alive by Cathy Retzenbrink

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