About the Book
Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it?
This book has such a stunning cover and from the moment I first saw it on twitter I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I’m thrilled to say that the book is just as stunning looking in real life and, more importantly, the novel inside that cover is even better!
This is a fascinating and tense novel about two women – one a successful writer who is married with two young children, and the other is a younger woman who is unsure about her life and what she wants, although writing really appeals to her. Initially it seems that Bo sees something in Alice’s writing and wants to encourage her but when she meets her she feels such a connection to her. Alice just wants to be accepted onto a writing course and when she is, she’s thrilled. There she meets Bo, the course leader, and they fall into what seems a really natural and easy friendship.
The novel initially has alternate chapters about Alice and then Bo, but then we get a whole section on one woman and then we see a similar timeline from the other woman. This is really well done because you come to think you know who the innocent party is but then you read another bit and you’re really not sure; it really builds the suspense at a hefty pace. As Alice and Bo each narrate their own section of this novel it becomes clear that one of them has to be an unreliable narrater because they can’t both be telling the truth, although this did lead me at one point to consider whether a third party had done some meddling and inflamed the situation so it really does have you wondering. Both women have had difficult times in their pasts and they each have traits that might lead them to become unhealthily attached to someone so it was impossible to work for a long time who was likely to be the most obsessive one. I did have more sympathy for one woman over the other for most of the novel but that did waiver at points because Sarah Stovell is a master manipulator of a writer and had me second-guessing myself more than once as I was reading!
There is a lot in this novel about mothers – both Alice and Bo seem to have had a complex relationship with each of their mothers and it seems to have shaped who they are now. It made me wonder if they were looking for mother or child substitutes in their lives but it was so much more complicated than that! The novel does explore whether the things that happen in people’s younger years can affect them when they’re adults, and whether a tough time in childhood can ever be an excuse for who people become as adults.
Exquisite is a claustrophobic, tense and thrilling novel that will grab you on the first page and won’t let you go until long after you’ve read the last page. I was literally sitting stock still with the book in my hands for a good few minutes when I read the ending, and I’m still thinking about it now and mulling it over! I love when a book leaves me feeling like this!
This is one of those novels that is impossible to put down, I honestly read it in one sitting because there just wasn’t a moment where I could stop reading – I simply had to know how this book was going to end! I highly recommend you go buy a copy of Exquisite right away, you won’t regret it!
Exquisite is out now!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.
(Bio & Author pic taken from: Orenda Books)