Peach By Emma Glass – A Review

I warn you now people, strap in! This could turn out to be a rambly one!

Initially I wasn’t going to put pen to paper (or thumbs to iPhone) on this one because…..well basically my mind was blown. As I am now a full 24hrs post-Peach I thought I would get a few thoughts down about it, even if it’s just to try and make sense of it in my own mind. I will preface this by saying I’m not one for writing negative reviews. I like to live by the old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all’. And this review/word vomit of thoughts I hope will not come across as too negative.

I’d seen Peach around on Twitter and IG. Read the blurb and thought it sounded very interesting. It was getting a lot of hype, hella five star reviews and I thought ‘I need me summa that!’ So I ordered it. It came. I read it. Mind. Blown.

I’ll start with a brief synopsis of the story. We have Peach a teenage girl who appears to have suffered a sexual attack. The book kicks off in the immediate aftermath. I mean it grabs you by the throat and then some!

It’s graphic. It’s visceral. It’s hard hitting, even in those first couple of pages. It certainly doesn’t pull any punches. We see Peach actually stitching her own vagina where it has been torn during the attack.

I start. Slip the pin through the skin. Start stitching. It doesn’t sting. It does bleed. White thread turns red. Red string. Going in. Going out. I pull. Tug. Tug the pin. In. Out. Out. Out. Blackout.

Awful right? Such an emotive subject that in lots of ways has to be hard hitting, has to force you to confront the real world and disgusting, heart wrenching events like this.

However the ‘real world’ falls away from this point onwards and herein lies the problem for me.

Let me (attempt to) explain! Peach has a baby sibling known only as ‘Baby’ who is an actual jelly baby. And I don’t mean it’s squishy and sweet and lovely, I mean it’s an ACTUAL JELLYBABY! When I read that she kissed it and had to wipe the sugar off her lips I thought ‘aye aye, what’s going on here? Have I read that wrong?’….

It doesn’t end there, her teacher is called Mr Custard and is made of….yes you guessed it, custard. Her boyfriend is a tree, his friend is a potato and she has a friend called sandy who is made of…..well….sand.

To top it all off her attacker, the person who has brutally raped her is a sausage. A sausage man called Lincoln.

Are you still with me?

There were times when I was reading this book that I thought ‘what on earth am I reading here?!’ I really struggled to wrap my tiny head around it. I felt almost like I wasn’t clever enough to ‘get it’. I felt left behind after reading all the glowing reviews. What were those people seeing that I wasn’t?

I should maybe explain that my reading tastes have changed vastly over the past twelve months or so and I have moved away from more ‘conventional’ literature and have started to dip my toe into ‘experimental’ literature, for want of a better word. For example George Saunders’ Lincoln In The Bardo was one of my favourite books of 2017 and there ain’t nothing conventional about that!

I think with Peach it wasn’t so much a case of dipping my toe in the experimental water as falling in way over my head and flailing around, desperately looking for someone to rescue me! I read the majority of this book at work on my lunch hour and so many times looked up hoping to find a face I could talk to about what I was reading…..but how do you explain to someone that your book is about a girl who had been sexually attacked by a sausage man?

I think maybe I missed the clever metaphors and hidden meanings, and if I’m being honest I think this says more about me as a reader than it does about the book.

I will say this for definite, it is beautifully written. I enjoyed the stream of consciousness element to the writing, it was very poetic. There is a lot of alliteration used which I’d seen some reviewers use as a negative but I thought this was one of the huge plus points:

Swollen. Swollen black from the slap. Smothered in grease from his slippery slimy sausage fingers.

I mean, come on! I love that!

There’s no doubting even for a second that Emma Glass can write. She can. Extremely well in fact. I’m looking forward to seeing what else she does. So in that respect she had definitely created a buzz.

Overall I’m disappointed that maybe I failed as a reader. Can you fail as a reader? I think Peach was a step too far in my ever evolving reading tastes and I have nobody to blame but myself. I should have done my research. I should have read more reviews before buying it. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to get so sucked in by the hype. But we do don’t we? That’s the whole point of ‘hype!’

I am super interested in your thoughts if you’ve read this one. It will definitely divide opinion I think and will stay with me for a long time to come!

I’d love to chat about it any old time. Come and find me on Twitter and Instagram where I am @bookishchat.

Sorry this was a ramble but hey-ho! I hope you made it this far!

See you soon.

Bookish Chat. Xxx

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White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht – A Review

Publisher: Chatto And Windus, Penguin Random House UK

Publication date: 18th January 2018

Now I have to be straight up honest here and admit that when I was approved via Netgalley to review this book I couldn’t remember requesting it! When I read the synopsis I did wonder if it would be my kind of book but I’m so glad I gave it a chance and thank the publisher for accepting me.

It’s 1943 in Japanese occupied Korea, We meet 16 year old Hana and her younger sister Emi. Hana is a ‘haenyeo’ girl along with her mother, which basically means she dives in the sea to collect shellfish to sell at the market and earn a living. Emi is too young to dive and so she sits guarding the buckets on the shore line. Hana’s mother constantly warns her to stay away from the Japanese soldiers at all costs. One day whilst diving, Hana sees a soldier walking along the shore, heading unbeknownst in the direction of her little sister.

Hana swims quickly to shore and places herself between them to distract the soldier from her sisters whereabouts. In doing so, Hana makes the ultimate sacrifice for her sister and is captured by the soldier (Morimoto).

She is taken away and forced into life as a ‘comfort woman’, basically a prostitute working in a brothel frequented by Japanese soldiers. Apparently the Japanese army thought that a sexually satisfied soldier was a much stronger fighter.

Hana endures some harrowing experiences, brutal violence and sexual abuse as the soldiers basically do as they please with her and the other girls. At times very difficult to read and digest.

There is a dual timeline narrative to this story which links it all together which I really enjoyed. We hear the voice of Emi, now well into her seventies with a family of her own. She is in ailing health and feels such tremendous guilt over what happened to her sister. She has spent her life wondering if her sister is still out there and if they’ll ever be reunited.

Hana is such a beautiful character. Strong, and full or determination to survive and get back home to her family who she loves and misses dearly, especially little Emi.

Now I must admit I’d never heard of the phrase ‘comfort woman’ before and apparently it was only in the early 90’s that the death, torture and sheer destruction of these young Korean girl’s lives was even acknowledged. Which when you think about it is just utter madness.

This is undoubtedly a shocking read, made all the more heart wrenching because it is based on events which actually occurred. And although Hana and Emi are fictional characters, Hana’s experiences as a comfort woman would have been typical of what actually occurred at that time. It just blows the mind.

I’m always loathe to say that I enjoyed a book with content like this as ‘enjoyed’ doesn’t seem like quite the right word to use but I enjoyed the reading experience and found the whole thing fascinating. Yet again this is a book that piques your interest and makes you want to find out more. Handily there is some factual information and a timeline at the back of the book which helps the reader to better understand events and when they happened.

I would definitely recommend this book if you have a love for history and maybe a strong stomach and thick skin!

See you soon.

Bookish Chat xxx

The Woman In The Window by A.J Finn- A Review

Publication date: 25th Jan 2018 (UK)

Publisher: Harper Collins

I saw this book all over the socials and was intrigued. I requested it on Netgalley and was thrilled to be accepted (let’s face it, I’m always thrilled!).

Anna Fox is a child psychologist who is agoraphobic following an incident which we’re not made aware of until much later in the book. A virtual recluse Anna lives alone without her husband and and daughter Olivia. She views her limited world through the lens of her camera, watching the comings and goings of the families in the street. Sometimes taking her interest online and finding out details about them.

Anna is content to live in this vastly reduced world and live vicariously through chat rooms and online forums. Having weekly visits from her psychiatrist and her physical therapist. That is until her camera lens gets her far more involved with the new family who have moved in across the park than she bargained for when she witnesses something happen which turns her enclosed world upside down…..or does she?

From here we follow Anna trying to make sense of what she might have seen through her alcohol and medication haze. She is desperately trying to figure out what can be happening inside her head and her home with little support from the authorities.

This is a very tense story of an unhappy woman trying to make her voice heard by people who are doubting her. Even at times doubting herself but knowing deep down that something isn’t ‘right’.

The pacing of this book is just superb. In some ways the story unfolds little by little and we’re given access to Anna’s memories of her family life and it’s ultimate disintegration but I also found each of the chapters short and snappy which I love.

The tension builds throughout until I found myself racing toward the ending, desperate to find out what happens. Oh my what an ending! My heart was beating out of my chest.

The characters are all so well written, right down to police officer Little (who I loved). This book keeps you on your toes, little twists and turns and jaw dropping moments, one in particular (which I won’t spoil obvs!).

I read this book in just over 24 hrs which is a good indication with me that I really enjoyed it. I think I blocked my children out for a while there! (I jest…..honest) and it was just a little too late to make it to my best books of 2017 which I’m beating myself up about a little.

When this book comes out at the end of January, do yourself a favour and grab yourself a copy. You won’t regret it. A fast paced awesome thriller for 2018!

See you soon

Bookish Chat. Xxx

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell – A Review

I can’t start the review of this book without a nod to the beautiful cover.  A creepy little cutout keyhole behind which peeps a sinister little eye?…. oh yes please.  Big tick.

This book is set in the 1800’s and flits back even further to the 1600’s periodically.  Our protagonist is Elisabeth (Elsie) Bainbridge, pregnant and newly widowed.  She is sent to wait out the arrival of her baby at her late Husbands family home The Bridge.

When she arrives she sets to exploring the house with her late husbands cousin Sarah who has accompanied her as a lady’s companion of sorts.  Their explorations bring them to the locked room known as the garret right at the top of the house.  In there they find old diaries from a previous occupant and ancestor along with strange carved wooden cut-out figures of people known as ‘companions’.  Firstly a small girl, and then a gypsy boy.  They immediately unnerve Elsie but Sarah is fascinated with them and asks that they be brought down to the main house to be displayed.

This sets a turn of events happening within the house which at first unsettles the occupants and ultimately terrifies them.  The maids in the house have all got stories where strange and inexplicable things have happened  The villagers also have their own theories and tales about odd happenings at The Bridge and choose in the main to stay away, most refusing to work there or set foot in the area.

We travel back in time for some chapters to the 1600’s and the story behind how the companions come to reside at The Bridge. There’s witchcraft and alchemy afoot here and I really loved these chapters. Discovering the history behind The Bridge and the companions was fascinating.

Ultimately we find Elsie incarcerated and accused of crimes that she herself is not certain she didn’t do. Her memories of the horrific happenings at The Bridge are slowly being pieced together as we discover the story with her.

I was warned before starting this book not to read it before bed etc etc but I like to consider myself a bit of a bad ass when it comes to scary books. Whilst it didn’t exactly frighten the pants off me it got beneath my skin and chilled my blood a fair few times! I find that this makes for a much better reading experience than out and out shock value.

This book was highly anticipated and it did not disappoint. It kept me gripped throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it, especially in the winter months! It’s a ghostly, gothic, gory delight!

See you soon.

Bookish Chat

Xxx

The Clocks In This House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks – A Review

This book is one of the four books that have been shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards in the First Novel category. If I’m honest it was the one I was least drawn to but in the interests of completeness I had to read it as I’d read the other three. I have reviewed The Haunting Of Henry Twist here and Montpelier Parade here. Both books I adored.

The Clocks In This House All Tell Different Times is the story of a young girl named Lucy who is orphaned and sent to live with her failing publican grandparents just after the First World War. Every Sunday Lucy is taken in the back of a van with two other young girls and a boy to visit the ‘Funny Men’ in the grounds of a country house estate. The Funny Men are disabled and injured soldiers who find themselves on the periphery of society now that the war has ended and they have served their purpose.

They are all given names pertaining to The Wizard Of Oz characters, Toto, Tinman, Scarecrow and The Cowardly Lion. Now these men pay for the children to ‘entertain’ them in the worst way. I must say that this subject matter was very dark, but quite sensitively written, even though it is still stomach churningly wrong.

What ensues afterwards changes Lucy’s life and the lives of the Funny Men irrevocably. This is a story of class and loneliness. At times there are what felt to me like magical elements to this story, it has quite an ephemeral feeling to it. Especially the parts of the story involving the master of the house where the Funny Men reside.

There are some god awful characters doing god awful things but some of them deserve a little sympathy I feel. The hard hitting subject matters of child prostitution, drug abuse and post war trauma are really very elegantly written. That sounds odd even as I type it, but I suppose what I mean is it’s not graphic or lurid.

What happened to the men who fought for our country and died or returned home with extremely life changing or life limiting injuries is a fascinating subject. The men who found themselves as outcasts in mainstream society. Not only that but the stories of the wives and children they left behind. It’s heartbreaking stuff.

When I started reading this book I got around 50 pages in and boldly put out a tweet that I may have to reconsider my winner of this award. Having now finished the book I can say that I really enjoyed the reading experience if not the subject matter entirely, but I have not changed my mind on who the winner should be……I might keep my powder dry on that one a little longer though……

See you soon.

Bookish Chat

Xx