Tuesday 26 October 2021

On the Edge by Jane Jesmond

About the Book 

Title: On the Edge

Author: Jane Jesmond

Publisher: Verve Books (October, 2021)

Summary (taken from the back cover): Jen Shaw has climbed all her life: daring ascents of sheer rock faces, crumbling buildings, cranes - the riskier the better. Both her work and personal life revolved around climbing, and the adrenaline high it gave her. Until she went too far and hurt the people she cares about. So she's given it all up now. Honestly, she has. And she's checked herself into a rehab centre to prove it.

Yet, when Jen awakens to find herself drugged and dangling off the local lighthouse during a wild storm less than twenty-four hours after a 'family emergency' takes her home to Cornwall, she needs all her skill to battle her way to safety.

Has Jen fallen back into her old risky ways, or is there a more sinister explanation hidden in her hometown? Only when she has navigated her fragmented memories and faced her troubled past will she be able to piece together what happened - and trust herself to fix it.

What I Think

I love the sea which made On The Edge, the debut novel by Jane Jesmond (published by Verve Books), a great read for me. Set in Cornwall, there are lots of beautiful descriptions of the sea and the cliffs, and nature at large, reminding me of another book I read and loved earlier in the year set in Cornwall: The Lip by Charlie Carroll. 

The main character in On the Edge is Jen Shaw. She's a lover of climbing and risk-taking, the bigger the better, but then a tragedy stops her in her tracks and sends her off the rails. Not far into the book Jen is drugged and left hanging on the side of an old lighthouse. There's an element of the 'whodunnit' in this narrative as she tries to work out who it could have been which keeps the reader guessing, and turning the pages, right to the very end. 

Family and childhood friends also play a strong part in this novel. Jen travels back to where she grew up to help out her brother and mother with the renovation of their sprawling childhood estate, Tregonna. There are interesting insights into how relationships change as we move from children to teenagers to adults as well as how moving away and coming back can also alter the dynamics. Not to mention the influence of partners, new and old. 

Lurking beneath the surface story, sometimes literally, is a much darker story, which, I feel really tied the different threads of the novel together nicely. 

This is an accomplished debut novel full of intrigue set against the backdrop of the beautiful Cornish coast. 

About the Author

On the Edge
is Jane Jesmond's debut novel and the first in a series featuring dynamic, daredevil protagonist Jen Shaw. Although she was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, raised in Liverpool, and considers herself northern through and through, Jane's family comes from Cornwall. Her lifelong love of the Cornish landscape and culture inspired the setting of On The Edge. Jane has spent the last thirty years living and working in France. She began writing steadily six or seven years ago and writes every morning in between staring out at the sea and making cups of tea.

Friday 13 August 2021

The Affair by Hilary Boyd

About the Book 

Title: The Affair

Author: Hilary Boyd

Publisher: Penguin Books (August, 2021)

Summary (taken from the back cover): On the glamorous shores of Lake Como, Connie meets Jared.

She's married. He's young. But that doesn't stop the heat rising between them.

And so begins a long, hot, intoxicating summer where Connie succumbs to temptation - breaking her marriage vows.

At the end of summer, Connie returns to her husband, ready to put the affair behind her.

But Jared has other ideas . . .

What I Think

The Affair is the first book by Hilary Boyd I've read, but as an international bestselling author, I had, of course, heard of her books, especially her debut, Thursdays in the Park. Boyd is, I believe, known for writing old(er) people well. The Affair certainly fits that mould.  

Elements of the story - and I mean this in a positive way - reminded me of the television series, The Split, starring Nicola Walker, in which we, as viewers and readers, are forced to look at relationships and question: what makes them work, what can we live with, and what can we live without? 

Connie, the main character in The Affair, finds herself in a new phase in her long marriage: her husband has recently retired and this creates a different dynamic, a reminder that relationships are often not static, but shift and change in relation to intrinsic and extrinsic influences. Also, that no matter how many good years you have behind you, they can't always sustain you through tough ones. What initially seems like a little light relief for Connie from her problems at home, weighs more and more heavily on her shoulders until she buckles under the strain.  

Hilary Boyd is one of those authors who makes writing a book look easy: her characters are fully formed, her dialogue is authentic, her descriptions of far flung places are divine and the narrative runs along at just the right pace. There is no doubt that achieving this is far from easy; that it does, in fact, take a tremendous amount of talent. Recommend The Affair if you're looking for a pacy read that deftly delves into the deeper, sometimes darker, side of relationships.  

Many thanks to Sarah Harwood and Michael J. Books for my proof copy. 

About the Author

HILARY BOYD was a nurse, a marriage counsellor, and ran a small cancer charity before becoming an author. She has written eight books, including Thursdays in the Park, her debut novel which sold over half a million copies and was an international bestseller. The film rights have been acquired by Charles Dance, who will be directing and starring. 

You can follow Hilary on Twitter: @HilaryBoyd

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