The Corset

I thoroughly enjoyed Purcell’s The Silent Companions and found it satisfyingly creepy, perfect for this time of year. So when The Corset came out in paperback I grabbed it quickly and couldn’t wait to dive in.

To a certain extent it’s as good as TSC but it isn’t without its issues and that main issue for me is the ending. Before I go into that though, a bit about the story. I think the premise itself is brilliant and quite unique.

There have been a few stories in the past about haunted clothing (not that I can name any of them beyond In Fabric, which hasn’t even had the decency to have a proper release yet) but the concept of vindictive embroidery really appeals to me. Imagine putting all your rage and hatred into your work and seeing very tangible results. It’s pure witchcraft and as you know, I’m all about the witch these days, even if it is dark magic.

That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it in my fiction though and I really love the character of Ruth, a young girl sentenced to death for the murder of her mistress. When high society do-gooder Dorothea Truelove takes it upon herself to start visiting Ruth is gaol while she awaits her trial, the whole story of how she came to be a murderess unravels – but is she really as bad as she believes or is she a victim herself?

Dorothea meanwhile has her own agenda, namely the study of phrenology and she really wants to get her hands on Ruth’s skull. She’s also being pressured by her ol’ dad to marry since she’s just turned five and twenty – and should probably get her skates on. Little does he know that she’s in love with a common or garden bobby!

Anyway, we’re here for the darkness, aren’t we? As Ruth embroiders a macabre picture for us we get plenty of that. Bullied and poor, things take a terrible turn when her beloved mother falls pregnant. Ruth is forced to leave school to help her seamstress mum with her workload, particularly a large order for a local dressmaker. When the baby arrives everything changes and Ruth realises she may have a secret power. Does she though or is she simply mad, after years of abuse?

Well, via flashback Ruth fills us in on her sewing skills and the horrible lifestyle to which she quickly becomes accustomed. As the terror grows so does her bitterness and rage – and all that has to go somewhere. I won’t go into it too much but it is a satisfying read.

Alongside Ruth’s woes we have the slightly less dramatic issues of Dorothea, whose beauty and class make her seem much less of a victim – but there’s something going on beneath the pristine surface – and maybe she and Ruth aren’t that different after all.

I really enjoyed myself but I did find the climax a little clumsy. It’s not that I didn’t understand it, it’s more that it wasn’t ironed out in quite the same way as the rest of the book and felt rushed. It’s an interesting ending and a good one but it comes at you fast – and it took the book from a solid five to a four in my eyes. Nevertheless, I’m excited for Bone China and I love Purcell’s Gothic hand.

Book details: The Corset
Publisher: Raven Books (2 May 2019)
ISBN-10: 1408889528
ISBN-13: 978-1408889527
Bought new paperback for myself

What are you reading?

Late Summer Reading List

I’ve spent the best part of the last two months trying to get through the first book in the Game of Thrones series – and although I’m enjoying it, there’s a lot to get to grips with. I love the story and many of the characters but I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fantasy girl. Thankfully, I’m coming to the end so I’ll be able to pick up something new soon. I have a couple of books waiting in the wings, hence this late Summer Reading List.

I’m only 28% through my Goodreads Reading Challenge and according to the app, will need to read two books a week for the rest of the year to hit my target of 50 books in 2019. Better get my skates on then, I guess.

What I’m Reading Next

The Corset by Laura Purcell

This book has been on my radar for a while. I loved The Silent Companions and found it genuinely eerie – so I have high hopes about the follow up. I’ve already spoken about it so I don’t want to repeat myself but I’m looking forward to dipping back into Purcell’s version of Gothic goodness.

Honestly, this is the kind of book I normally reserve for Autumn reading but fuck it. It’s windy enough out there to appeal to my nesting sensibilities, so bring it on.

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen

“So, this is me. Lily Allen.

I am a mother, and I was a wife. I’m also a singer and a songwriter. I have loved and been let down. I’ve been stalked and assaulted. I am a success and a failure. I’ve been broken and full of hope. I am all these things and more.

I’m telling my truth because when women share their stories, loudly and clearly and honestly, things begin to change – for the better.

So, this is my story. These are my thoughts exactly.”

I’ve got a soft spot for Lily, who hasn’t always got it right but has always been seemingly honest, which I admire. She also been through an awful lot in her career and personal life, so I suspect this autobiography is going to be pretty eye-opening stuff. I’m holding out for heaps of scandal and a healthy dollop of bitching about other celebrities.

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

I follow Laura on social media and find her quite endearing, so when I saw she’d written a novel, even though it’s not my usual kind of book, I wanted to check it out.

When I was grabbing dinner in Sainsbury’s at the weekend, I found it for the bargain price of £2.99. Well I’m a girl of limited means, so what was I going to do?

The premise is this:

“What if you almost missed the love of your life?

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.”

Cute, huh?

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

Bethany is an internet staple for me, someone I’ve followed and admired for a long time. I’d go so far as to say she is one of the people most responsible for helping me change my way of thinking towards my own body. I’d definitely recommend you check her out on Twitter and beyond.

NBD is her debut fiction novel and I am so excited to meet her fat protagonist, Emily. I suspect this is a book I could really have done with back when I was a teen and I just really hope it gets the attention and acclaim it undoubtedly deserves.

A little outline:

“A warm, funny YA debut about a fat girl embarking on her first romance, female friendship, valuing herself and not settling, by one of the best body positive writers in the UK.”

So that’s me. Getting ready to hunker down with several good books and a duvet.

What are you reading?

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019 and a New Reads List

The best thing about the new year is signing up to a new Goodreads Reading Challenge. So far, over the last few, I have failed to complete a single year – or if I’ve got anywhere near I wouldn’t know as I’ve failed to log the books I’ve read.

There’s not much to the rules of the challenge to be honest. You input how many books you want to read that year and then, as you complete each one, you check them off on the GR app. It’s quite addictive, at least in the first couple of months as you rack ’em up and see you percentage achieved rise (I’m currently on 12% with six out of 50 books done).

Anyway, I love to read and I love to buy books even though I shouldn’t and I’ve got some real peaches in the immediate pile (anyone else got piles in order of importance?). Here are some of the ones I’m most excited for:

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I mean, what a title. It’s also meant to be an absolute belter so bring it on!

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I’m obsessed with this cover and even more intrigued by the subject matter. I think this is definitely next in line for me.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

I’ve recently read Eileen by the same author (reviewed here) and it was gorgeous so this is a no-brainer. It sounds awesome:

A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature.

Men without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami

I’ve always been a big fan of Murakami but somewhere along the line I read too much of his work and needed to take a long break. I’m back in the game now after I read his little short Birthday Girl. There’s just something about his prose.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

A classic I’ve not yet read though I’ve devoured the film many times and adore it (boo Polanski). Cannot wait to dip into this deeply unsettling world again.

Help by Simon Amstell

I love Simon Amstell and find him very clever and funny. Darren and I have seen him a couple of times doing stand-up and that’s was enough to make me snatch this up as soon as I saw it.

From a complicated childhood in Essex to an Ayahuasca-led epiphany in the Amazon rainforest, this story will make you laugh, cry and then feel happier than you’ve ever been.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

I’m currently reading this bad boy and it’s started well with a definite The Woman in Black flavour (which is mentioned on the cover with a bi-line by Susan Hill). As far as I’m concerned you can’t lose with Gothic literature but I just hope this is good as I suspect it’s going to be.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel

I got the movie tie-in novel after seeing the very, very good movie adaptation on Monday night (review to follow). I loved Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel and frankly, I wanted more as soon as the credits rolled. So this is going to be a lot of fun. What an ingenious idea for a scam though.

Lee Israel’s hilarious and shocking memoir of the astonishing caper she carried on for almost two years when she forged and sold more than three hundred letters by such literary notables as Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, Noel Coward, and many others.

Adèle by Leïla Slimani

Slimani’s Lullaby (know as The Perfect Nanny in some countries) was dynamite. In turn beautiful, odd and shocking, it tells the story of how the perfect nanny came to murder the young children in her care. Adèle centers around a seemingly perfect wife, mother and career woman (of the same name) who leads a very secret double life.

~

I might have to cancel the rest of the month so I can get fully immersed. I will be reviewing as I go too so watch this space.

What are you reading?