Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The journey that was Elmet all began on a journey and the end result for Fiona Mozley is that Elmet is a compelling and dramatic debut novel that ended up becoming shortlisted for one of the most prestigious book prizes The Man Booker Prize.
Elmet is dark and there is also something very Gothic in its setting and telling. Set in the Yorkshire countryside and is a dramatic telling of what is a family that is troubled. The narrator is Daniel and he lives with his sister Cathy together with their father John who is a fighter and not one to mess with.
John takes his children and they build a house and settle in. Their mother who seemed never to be close was never around the children and then just disappeared they then lived with Granny Morley and all seemed to be working well. They went to School and now they have retreated from society and live in the woods. While Daniel seems to be the quieter preferring to read, Cathy likes to explore the woods.
The family are now separated from the real life and people of the town and so they more or less live off the land and fend for themselves. There is Vivien with whom their father has some sort of relationship with and now the children will be taught by Vivien. But trouble is not far away as Daddy has built the house with his own hands. But now the man who claims to own the land Mr Price has come to call. He claims the land is his after their mother handed over the deeds as some sort of repayment against debt she had. At this point my thoughts were running away with me, was there something going on between the children’s mother and Mr Price? What follows is a chilling threat to their very existence and it is real and dark. Now the struggle over the families very existence begins. This is a family that is close and will stay that way through to the end. However, it ends. They will stick by each other.
When the book moves into the final stages the pace increases and this is where it got so fast that I just wanted it to slow down a bit. Now the nail biting finale is coming up a battle for survival. Sweeping, dark and dramatic are words that came to mind and also resembles the surrounding countryside. The book left me with a headache but not in a bad way it was just I became so involved in this drama that was being played out. This is an incredible breakthrough novel that was never going to deliver an ending that is satisfactory.
Elmet deserved its place on the shortlist and was one of my tips to win, many have sung its praises. Let’s be clear this is not a feel good book and not one to read if you need cheering up. I loved Elmet and many who come to discover it now will also come to love Fiona Mozley’s writing. It left me wondering what is to come next from this very exciting new writing talent. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Elmet by Fiona Mozley is published by John Murray and was published on 10th August 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Good Guy – Susan Beale
The Last Word Review
When this book arrived in early June I sat and looked at the cover for some time wondering what the premise of the story was about. The cover is just sublime. The Good Guy by Susan Beale is inspired by her own true life events after reading her adoption files and from conversations with her birth mother after they re-connected later in life.
I have to admit I fell into The Good Guy hook line and sinker, I like nothing better than a story that has is inspired by true events. The story is based in suburban New England in the 1960’s. This is a gorgeous story filled to the brim with passion with a mix of desire and deception.
Back in the 1960’s young couples seemed to do what was expected dated, courted and married young, then came the house and then the family. The idyllic lifestyle. Ted and Abigail did all these things but some men just don’t know when to say no.
Susan Beale sets the tone of the book by alternating each chapter from the female and male perspective and captures the mood of the time perfectly. It is utterly captivating like watching a box set of your favourite tv series set in this era, nothing short of absorbing.
Ted was hard working he always felt that he was doing well in his job but something was just not right and his feeling was that his wife was not giving him the support he deserved. I think you can guess what comes next? Along comes Penny a single woman she is fashionable funny and most of all attractive and she is missing something from her life, she just wants to be loved. After a brief encounter things move quickly between them and the consequences of getting involved in an affair when things go too far are both stark and real. In a time when the contraceptive pill was not wildly available the dangers for both are real. And in this case Ted faces losing everything and for Penny life changing circumstances.
For Abigail who spends her time looking after their son and cooking a pot roast she seemingly struggles to cope in a marriage that has lost its way. Does she have any idea of her husband’s infidelity? Each character is so incredibly woven into the story that you become transfixed by their own words and deeds. I guess the one thing that comes out of this story is that of human frailties. At times you felt like you were watching a car wreck about to happen with the consequences for all to see. This is real life laid bare for everyone to see. Heartache for all three.
Looking back now after I have read The Good Guy is just how different life was back in the 60’s and how people were treated. Different era different generation. This is a hugely entertaining read one that you just cannot leave alone as you just want to find out what has happened next. If you are looking for an ideal Summer holiday read. Pack this one in your hand luggage.
My thanks to Ruby Mitchell at Hodder for the review copy.
The Good Guy by Susan Beale was published by John Murray on 16 June and is available in hardback from Waterstones and all good bookshops.