Debut author Matson Taylor certainly set himself a challenge with this, his first novel. They say you should write about what you know – so what does this academic know about what goes on in the mind of a 16 year old girl?
Retired publisher Susan Ryeland said farewell city, hello paradise, when she quit her London life in exchange for the delights of a sun-kissed Greek island. She thought that running a small hotel there would be idyllic. But despite the compensations of sun, sea, and a slower pace of life, Susan is going quietly nuts. Nothing ever seems to work on the island; she’s exhausted by endless challenges and grinding responsibility.
Rather a lot, actually. Evie Epworth is a fabulously-drawn character, hugely colourful but completely believable. Her horror at being faced with the prospect of an overweening, manipulative, grasping stepmother entering and dominating her life knows no bounds. The awful Christine is determined to stamp on Evie’s dreams of escaping rural east Yorkshire, and force her to take a job at the local salon instead.
Evie’s not having any of it. And she’s not just determined to save herself – she wants to rescue her father from Christine’s clutches too. An absolute romp of a story.
Taylor hasn’t just set the bar high with his choice of Evie as his central, vibrant character – he’s set it almost sixty years ago, too, in 1962. Heart-throb of the day back in those (just) pre-Beatles days was singer Adam Faith. Evie has not one but two posters of him on her bedroom wall – ‘Brooding Adam’ and ‘Sophisticated Adam’. They offer her wise counsel on her dreams of independence in the bright lights of London (or even Leeds, at a pinch).
This is coming-of-age story, wittily told and with a terrific cast of supporting characters. You really root for Evie as she plans exactly how to thwart Christine’s ghastly plans for her and her father, Arthur. In the process, Evie will discover who she really is – and what she really wants.