Originally published: June 2019 (This edition December 2019)
Author: Joanna Glen
Published by: Borough Press
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 20-25 January 2020
Augusta Hope is a little bit different. She is a voracious reader and loves words – at 6 she is reading and memorising the dictionary. At 8, she is looking at a globe and chooses her favourite country based purely on the sound of it’s name – Burundi.
As a grown up she feels she doesn’t belong in the town where she lives with her parents and her twin sister Julia on Willow Close. She always feels like she is destined for bigger things. While Julia is content to work as a nursery nurse in her home town and marry her childhood sweetheart, Augusta can’t wait to leave and goes to University, with dreams of becoming an author.
When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she ends up returning to the place she went on her childhood holiday, La Higuera in Spain.
The other character we follow in this book is Parfait, a young man from the troubled country of Burundi, in the midst of civil war. He lives with his family, who suffer the effects of the war and he dreams of leaving Burundi and poverty behind.
The stories of the two characters run in parallel and I was equally invested in both! One of the things I really enjoyed in this book, was the use of language – I loved Augusta’s obsession with words. I also liked the way use of non-verbal communication was used – the way August’s mother looks at her with a sense of not understanding who she is.
A study of relationships especially within families, it is interesting to see how the characters change and grow throughout the book. A slow moving book, it takes it’s time to tell the story and I quite liked that. I struggled a little to engage to begin with but I think it is one of those books that benefit from investing the time in reading for longer periods. Once I spent an afternoon with Augusta, I felt I really started to enjoy it much more.
Many thanks to Tandem Collective and HarperCollins for sending me a copy as part of the Augusta Hope read along over on Instagram.
About the author:
Joanna Glen read Spanish at the University of London, with a stint at the Faculty of Arts at Córdoba University in the south of Spain. She went on to teach Spanish and English to all ages, and, latterly, was a school principal in London. Joanna’s short fiction has appeared in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology. She lives with her husband and children on the River Thames in Battersea, returning to Andalusia whenever it gets too grey.