With Carol Lovekin one of my all time favourite authors I was delighted when Anne Cater of Random Things Tours asked if I’d like to be involved in the blog tour for Carol’s latest book Only May. I’m thrilled to share my review today and would like to thank Carol for including me in the acknowledgements of Only May which was a huge surprise and delight to me, as was finding myself quoted on the back cover alongside Louise Beech and Joanne Harris as follows:
GHOSTBIRD: ‘Charming, quirky, magical’ Joanne Harris
SNOW SISTERS: ‘… a novel of magic, of potent spells, and of great beauty.’ Louise Beech
WILD SPINNING GIRLS: ‘an author with magic in her writing whose words enhance the lives of those who read her.’ Linda’s Book Bag,
You see, Carol’s Snow Sisters was my outright book of the year in 2017, and I reviewed it here. Carol’s Wild Spinning Girls was another of my books of the year in 2020 and I reviewed Wild Spinning Girls here. I still have Ghostbird waiting for me on my TBR.
Published by Honno on 18th May 2022, Only May is available for purchase here.
Listen. The bee walks across my finger, slow as anything and I can see through the gauzy wing, to the detail of my skin. You aren’t looking in the right place.
If you look her in the eye and tell a lie, May Harper will see it. And if she doesn’t see it, the bees will hum it in her ear. Her kind mother and her free-spirited aunt have learned to choose their words with care. Her beloved invalid father lives in a world of his own, lost in another time, the war he cannot forget.
On May’s seventeenth birthday, a casual evasion from her employer hints at a secret hiding at the heart of the family. Determined to discover the truth, May starts listening at doors… She begins watching the faces of the people she loves best in all the world, those she suspects are hiding the biggest lie of all.
My Review of Only May
May can see lies.
Only May is, quite simply, wonderful. I absolutely adored it. From the very first sentence May’s conversational narrative voice is hypnotic so that through her Carol Lovekin seems to slip an enchantment over the reader, drawing them into her bewitching story-telling from the very first page. There’s mystery here that swirls over the story in much the same way Carol Lovekin describes the mists in her stunning writing. I’d defy any reader to find an author who writes description quite so convincingly, so evocatively and so mesmerisingly as this writer.
Indeed, Carol Lovekin’s beautiful, mellifluous writing is suffused with love and a kind of hiraeth, a longing, that permeates the narrative of Only May. This is a story about family, belonging and identity. About choices and the way love and hate are so closely aligned. About how blood is thicker than water. And about society and the public personas we present. I am, genuinely, in awe of Carol Lovekin’s ability to present women with such insight, such clarity and such tenderness. That said, Billy is a wonderful character too. His physical and mental injuries are sensitively portrayed so that the reader falls in love with Billy every bit as much as Esme did.
May is an amazing creation. She’s fierce, vulnerable and completely individual. Her strong alignment with nature balances perfectly how she finds herself untethered from the truth despite her ability to detect lies. It’s as if she is Mother Nature personified and yet she feels completely authentic as a seventeen year old girl on the cusp of adulthood and all the knowledge that maturity can bring. Reading May’s story broke my heart and mended it in such a way that I experienced my emotions physically. Through May we learn that our past can shape us as far as our present but that our future is in our own hands.
Wise, warm and wonderful, Only May is a book to touch your very soul. I absolutely adored it. Don’t miss it.
About Carol Lovekin
Carol Lovekin has Irish blood and a Welsh heart. She was born in Warwickshire and has lived in mid Wales since 1979. A feminist, she finds fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women’s collective stories. Her books reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of her adopted home.
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