Joe and Elly are close. They were born in the 60s, we follow them through their childhood and adolescence, then miss a decade or so and rejoin them in the 90s.
It’s hard to review this novel. I really enjoyed it, but I’m finding it hard to explain why (without spoiling the story). What I can say is the author, Sarah Winman, has written something quite infectious and if you’re the type to keep reading without a break if you like something, you’ll finish this in a day.
It’s also a novel that hides a lot of emotion, and she does draw that emotion out of you. The relationships in this novel are so sensitively drawn that you can’t help but feel a little of what Elly’s feeling as she tells her story, a story of family and deep bonds, of unconditional love and best friends.
My main question to Winman is, Who was Jenny Penny, and how did she get a coin from 1995 when it was 1979?
The only thing that bothered me about the novel — and hopefully it will be corrected in the finished book — is the misuse of words. It’s ‘coarse’, not ‘course’, ‘practice’, not ‘practise’, and so on. I’m such a pedant for this sort of thing that it really bothered me.
This uncorrected advance proof was received as part of the Real Readers programme. And another thing. It makes perfect sense when proofs come adorned with marketing plans for a very commercial publication, but I don’t get the gushing praise sourced from in-house and no marketing information for a debut novel. Yes, it’s hard to sell a debut, but the blurbs did nothing but turn me off — it seemed kind of desperate. This novel didn’t need it, the proof package could have been a lot more confident. Also, the video on Amazon (linked below) while nicely-produced is misleading, but the copy does sum the book up very well.