It was a real pleasure to welcome Susi Osborne as my guest on Being Anne in August, and I’m sorry it’s taken me far longer than I intended to read her latest book, Angelica Stone. Published by the Book Guild, the book is available in paperback and for kindle: my thanks to Susi for my reading e-copy.
Following years of sexual abuse and resulting psychological trauma, Angelica Stone has learnt to rely solely on herself. Unwilling to allow anyone to get close to her, Angelica is reluctant to allow her work colleague Lola into her life. Lola, in contrast to the damaged Angelica, is from what appears to be a happy middle-class family. But all is not what it seems…
An unlikely bond is formed between the two as they learn more about each other. As they become closer, a series of life-changing events leave Lola on the verge of ruin. Will the friends be able to better themselves and have the lives they so desperately want? Or will they succumb to the expectations and the path already laid out for them?
Angelica Stone follows both characters in their own journey of self-discovery. This close and in-depth look into the lives of Angelica and Lola will see the reader laugh and cry as the two women learn about themselves and the invaluable friendship they have.
Ok, I’d read the description, and I was expecting “laughter and tears” – but this book was a dark and delicious surprise from beginning to end, and really not what I was expecting at all. There’s a wonderful lightness about the writing that immediately draws you in, as you laugh about Lola’s life with her amorous parents, laugh at her disastrous first date at Costa and Pizza Express, and sympathise with the daily drudgery of her life on the supermarket checkout. But things turn very dark and very quickly when she gets to know Angelica – as they quickly become supportive friends, Angelica’s life is the polar opposite of her own, and their closeness impacts on them both and everyone around them. The middle class gloss is just that, concealing dark depths – and the story twists off into directions you really won’t ever be expecting.
The characters are just wonderful – Lola and Angelica themselves, but I particularly loved geeky and awkward blind date Arthur, and parents Helen and Peter with their simmering passion and deep hidden secrets. The writing is so clever – if I say “quirky”, will I put anyone off? The light touch is maintained throughout, totally at odds with much of the subject matter – and that’s such a difficult balancing act to achieve. The story, at times, has a feel of a rather gruesome farce, but sometimes a quite unbearable darkness and nastiness – and still you find yourself smiling, while waiting for the next revelation, wiping away a tear and raging inside at the injustice of it all. The humour is just wonderful, laugh-out-loud at times – but the next shock is never very far away.
I loved this one – totally outside my personal comfort zone in so many ways, but refreshingly different, and so very well written. Go on, give it a try…
About the author
Susi Osborne is a Cheshire-based author. Her previous three books are The Ripples of Life, Grace & Disgrace, and Secrets, Lies & Butterflies. Susi ‘s fourth book, Angelica Stone, was published on 28th August 2017. Susi also runs the Northwich LitFest throughout June each year.