Plucked from my Netgalley piles, I accidentally picked two books with similar topics. They each dealt with the topic in different ways that complement each other beautifully so I thought it might be nice, as well as posting about things I am interested in in the world of books, to write a weekly review as well.
Not sure how that will turn out, currently I am juggling the third and final year of nursing school with running a zoo (3 children, 2 cats, a dog and a husband…the jury’s out on who is the most work !)and keeping my handmade crafts business afloat, but it’s worth a try!
So for this week’s review I have Alice Clark-Platt’s ‘The Flower Girls’ (due out 24th January 2019) and Lesley Kara’s ‘The Rumour’ (due out on December 27th 2018).
With my Netgalley reads, sometimes I like the look of a book and it just does not grip me in any way shape or form, as a result I will review the book as honestly as possible without being mean (no one needs that!)I will return that review but not spread it far and wide over social media because that is a person’s dream, it is their life work and I don’t want to ruin that or upset a person’s day just because it wasn’t for me.
After that scintillating insight into my reviewing process, the opposite is also true. If I love a book I will literally shout about in on everyone platform, As well as in real life sometimes too (ahem, slightly embarrassing but I will!)
Both of these are 5 star books.
And I will tell you why. ‘The Rumour’ is a debut novel from Lesley Kara, an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course.
It is the story of Joanna, a letting agent, and her son Alfie who move to a small seaside town to make a fresh start , put distance between her and her on/off relationship with Alfie’s father , Michael(a journalist) and reconnect with her mother.
A need to become friendly with school yard mums becomes an introduction to a local bo0ok club, babysitting circle and the sentence that starts the rumour of the title with runaway, unforeseen consequences.
There is the tiniest possibility that a child killer, Sally McGowan (herself a child at the time of the offence)has been moved due to being exposed at her last address, to a seaside town, possibly one similar to Flinstead-on-sea, and suddenly, every woman of a similar age or initials is suspect….
What I love was the creeping sense of dread and how Lesley accurately captures the escalation of a potential fact to it becoming a concrete truth with no underpinning veracity all because someone said so. Further to this it encourages debate as to the nature of good versus evil-can a person who does something so horrific ever be rehabilitated? And furthermore, do they deserve to be?
However, once the ball is rolling, her ex-partner Michael has a vested interest in also trying to work out who Sally is now and getting an exclusive on her side of the story. So is his sudden desire to be giving their relationship another try genuine or just an excuse to do some digging?
Suddenly everyone’s motives are suspect, truth and lies walk a fine line and the rumour becomes unstoppable. The depiction of the way that school mums (and this is not being sexist, as a mum of too many years and now the wife of a work- at-home husband who has also observed the similar pecking order ,this is very, very accurate) behave and the currency of gossip versus accurate knowledge is bang on. The sense of dread is never overdone, it isn’t incredibly dramatic as events snowball they seem completely realistic. It keep you reading until the very end when you want to start yelling about it from the rooftops. Absolutely brilliant.
In contrast, ‘The Flower Girls’ takes the same theme-the murder of a child by another-and sets it in a completely different environment. Laurel and Primrose have forever been labelled ‘The Flower Girls’ after the horrific toddler abduction and murder they carried out as children.
One of the girls was old enough to be charged with the offence and was sentenced to life imprisonment whilst the other was too young so the entire family was given new identities and relocated.
The aunt of the little girl who was murdered made it her life long mission to keep the one girl behind bars, and sets up a social justice action group to keep the name of the victim in the public consciousness so that the perpetrators will never know peace.
However, in a seaside hotel, during a snow and ice storm, a five year old girl, Georgie, goes missing. A frantic race against time begins to find the child before she dies of exposure but why are the parents acting so suspiciously, why is the timing of Georgie’s disappearance so hard to get right, why is the chef being obtrusive and what happens when one of the guests thinks they recognise the relocated, grownup Flower Girl?
This is only the beginning in a story that twists and turns and leaves you breathless. It can be uncomfortable reading in the way that most of us believe in the innate goodness of children, so how, therefore, could one be evil enough to kill a child? Let alone siblings? Was it their upbringing, did they absolutely commit this crime as the incarcerated Flower Girl maintains her innocence?
What happens to the carefully built façade around the free one (and is she really even free?) Does she reveal herself or wait to be revealed by the guest who makes it clear they know it’s her? Which is the lesser of the two evils? her partner is aware of her crime but what will happen when her step-daughter to be finds out? It would be easy for a novel discussing such things to resort to the lowest common denominator and say evil is evil, it cannot be remedied, it cannot be excused. However, as with ‘The Rumour’, ‘The Flower Girls’ really gets the reader thinking about collective responsibility, rehabilitation, the justice system and social media as a weapon.
I remain grateful to Netgalley and the publishers, Raven Books and Bantam Books for letting me read them in return for an honest review, please check them out at your nearest bookshop, online retailer or local library and if you enjoy these, or any other books, please consider leaving a review !