Exquisite by Sarah Stovell
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? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Wow, well where to begin with this one! It is without a doubt the strangest novel I have read so far this year and that’s out of 90 novels! But I totally mean strange in a good way. The novel centres around the relationship between two women. It is one of the finest psychological based novels I have ever read, the whole ‘what is real?’ feeling, coupled with the relationships decent into toxicity! One thing is for certain it makes for gripping reading!
The novel focuses on two characters, Bo Luxton writer, bestseller, mother, wife and all round perfect woman. Bo lives in a beautiful mountainside home on the Lak District. However, it is when Bo organises a writers retreat in Northumberland, that we first meet Alice. Alice is an aspiring writer, living with a dead end boyfriend and struggling a dead end, kind of life. Her mother issues form the basis of her inspiration for her writing. The depth and pain of the rejection causes her to immediately latch onto the glamourous Bo. Alice isn’t just jealous of Bo’s life; she wants Bo’s life……….
The background of both women, is slowly explained throughout the novel. With both women, having known emotional pain and childhood abuse. Their points of view are so uniquely different though, it’s almost as if two writers wrote the different chapters. There are chapters with one of the women talking from a women’s prison, but which woman is speaking?
The relationship between the women begins as one of love and admiration for someone from a similar walk of life and quickly develops into one of a creepy infatuation! I spent the entire time reading, trying to figure out the truth from the two women’s story’s. It is exceptionally difficult as their stories are riddled with trickery, but who are they tricking, themselves or each other? I found this novel very reminiscent of the movie Single White Female, accept you never know who to trust, right up until the very last page!
In this novel, one of the women is a violent, narcissistic pathological liar. You just have to figure out which one………….
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.
Via Orenda: http://orendabooks.co.uk/sarah-stovell/