The cover caught my attention and the blurb lured me in but it was the quality of the writing that gripped me to the end.
Lex Coulton has been described as a “true new talent” and, after reading her debut, Falling Short, I think that quote is spot on.
Even in the first few pages the book felt markedly different – in a good way.
There are two central characters, Frances and Jackson, who both have strong and believable voices.
Parts of their story made my heart actually hurt while others made me laugh out loud but afterwards I realised the strangest thing…I wasn’t sure if I really liked either of them.
Here’s the blurb:
School-teacher Frances Pilgrim’s father vanished when she was five, and since then other things have been going missing too: car-keys, promotions, an endless roster of unsuitable boyfriends . . . And now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine and still losing things.
Frances needs someone to talk to. Ideally to Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer where they had too many glasses of Merlot (oh, large, please . . .) and things got complicated.
But now she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother Mary, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in.
As the new school year begins, and Mary’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, Frances realises that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?
Maybe not ‘liking’ them is the wrong way to describe it, it was more that there were elements of their characters I found frustrating, intriguing and confusing – just like in real life, I suppose.
People are complicated and I think part of Lex’s talent is writing characters who don’t feel like characters. Both Frances and Jackson felt like real people, people who don’t follow a linear path, who make mistakes, who live lives that ‘fall short’ and perhaps do things differently to how I would.
It didn’t detract from how well the story read, if anything it made it more interesting. I will say that by the end I was willing for good things to happen to poor Frances (I won’t spoil it by saying more).
Maybe it won’t be for everyone but I found her writing exciting and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Price: £4.99 (on Amazon).
My rating: Five stars.
With thanks to John Murray (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.
I was lucky enough to interview Lex ahead of publication for my Behind The Book series. You can read it here.