Published: 14 April 2023
Author: A J Elwood
Published by: Titan Books
Length: 320 pages
Reading dates: 6-9 April 2023
1864. Banished from her parents’ farm to a boarding school for young ladies, Ivy feels utterly alone. In a crumbling and isolated seminary that has seen better days, she is shunned by the other pupils for her working-class origins, and mourns for her sister, who died not long after she was sent away.
Hope comes in the form of a new teacher, Miss Emily White, but almost immediately, suspicions are raised that she is not all she should be. Ivy is captivated, yet as her devotion grows, odd reports begin to circulate that Miss White has been glimpsed in the garden picking flowers whilst also teaching a class, leaving the school but stalking the halls at the same time.
As increasingly strange rumours abound, Ivy’s obsession spins out of control, and with Emily White’s future at stake, she will do anything to keep her only friend.
The year is 1922 and a woman is remembering her school days. Back in Yorkshire in 1864, Ivy attends Fulford boarding school. She doesn’t fit in with the other daughters of gentleman and nobleman, having being brought up on a farm and sent to her grandparents when times were tough and her younger sister Daisy died. She has no-one at the school she can call a friend preferring the company of the horses.
So when a new schoolmistress, Miss Emily White arrives at the school, Ivy and the other girls are excited to see what sort of woman she will be. The other girls find her appearance amusing when she turns up dishevelled and soaking with rain and they laugh at her. But Ivy instantly feels a connection to her and wants to spend time with her, sharing their love of painting. But before long, strange events start happening. Miss White often appears to be in two places at once and she can have a conversation with Ivy but then have no memory of it.
The other girls are convinced that Miss White has dark powers but Ivy defends her, believing them to be mistaken. But as girls start dying, even Ivy has to admit there is something strange about Miss White.
I thoroughly enjoyed this dark and spooky read. Ivy is a lonely character who can’t help to be drawn to Miss White but she can’t believe what the girls are saying about her being in two places at once. She thinks the girls, especially the ring leader Sophia have just taken a dislike to her and are causing trouble.
A book about loneliness and obsession, the author was inspired by the real young woman Emélie Sagée, a nineteenth century teacher who was said to have a doppelgänger. For fans of ghostly goings on and dark academia, The Other Lives of Miss Emily White was a mysterious and compelling read.
If you like the sound of this, I have a giveaway running on my Instagram until 15th April – click here to see how to enter https://www.instagram.com/p/Cq2SMxVLLNP/
With thanks to Charlotte from Titan Books for inviting me on the Instagram tour and sending me a proof copy of the book. Please check out what other reviewers are saying below:
About the author
Alison Littlewood was raised in Penistone, South Yorkshire, and went on to attend the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (now Northumbria University). Originally she planned to study graphic design, but “missed the words too much” and switched to a joint English and History degree. She followed a career in marketing before developing her love of writing fiction.
Alison Littlewood’s latest novel, Mistletoe, is a seasonal ghost story with glimpses into the Victorian era. Her first book, A Cold Season, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club and described as ‘perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.’ Other titles include A Cold Silence, Path of Needles, The Unquiet House, Zombie Apocalypse! Acapulcalypse Now, The Hidden People and The Crow Garden.
Alison’s short stories have been picked for Best British Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. They have been gathered together in her collections Quieter Paths and in Five Feathered Tales, a collaboration with award-winning illustrator Daniele Serra. She won the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction.
Alison lives with her partner Fergus in deepest Yorkshire, England, in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls. She loves exploring the hills and dales with her two hugely enthusiastic Dalmatians and has a penchant for books on folklore and weird history, Earl Grey tea and semicolons.
Alison is a member of the Society of Authors and the British Fantasy Society.
I love the sound of this story! I’m definitely adding to my wishlist. Fab review!
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