#Review: A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon @JoannaCannon @BoroughPress @HarperCollinsUK @RandomTTours #blogtour #newrelease

By | May 3, 2022

I’m really delighted today to be joining the blog tour (just an informal one – no fancy banners today!) for A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon, and to share my review. Published on 28th April by The Borough Press, it’s now available in hardcover, as an ebook, and as an audiobook (I couldn’t resist a quick listen to the sampler – Lissa Berry’s narration is just perfect!) – the paperback will follow next year on 30th March. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance e-copy (provided via netgalley).

Now this is the point when I’d usually tell you how much I loved the author’s other books and add links to previous reviews, but this time I’m sorry but I can’t. I did read – and really loved – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep when I read it with my book club (and they all really enjoyed it too…) but I have no review to share: in fact, I chose it, as I’d read so many wonderful reviews from blogging friends. I haven’t read Three Things about Elsie, and it’s still waiting (very patiently) on my kindle – it came out at the time when I was wrestling with my mum’s care needs, and all I could cope with were the lightest of romances. But this time I was quite determined to read the book early and share a review… and I think it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made…

A nice, normal house


Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.


A nice, normal husband


Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.


A nice, normal life…


If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…

Linda’s life is empty, but filled with disappointment. She’s recently moved, with husband Terry, to another house on the same sprawling estate, and – when she’s not working at the charity shop or visiting her mother – she spends her time trying to keep it spotlessly clean (despite the ill-fitting hallway carpet and the cracked glass in the front door), while listening to her music. She’s achingly lonely, and desperate to find a friend – but she’s not too great at picking up on signals, her choices aren’t always well made, and her awkwardness and too-loud laugh do tend to drive people away.

Hers is the voice of the book – quite wonderfully sustained – and we know that there was a traumatic event in her childhood that forced her and her mother to move away from Wales. When catalogues start coming through the door, addressed to previous owner Rebecca, she catches sight of a different life – and, convinced that this woman could be the friend she really needs, she sets about finding her.

Meanwhile, the area has been hit by a spate of murders – young women, attacked and strangled, left in locations only a local would know – and the police investigation punctuates the narrative. Linda is questioned, and her husband Terry – they know there’s a white van involved, just like his – but it’s just “the usual”, one of those things we hear about in Linda’s matter-of-fact way, as we watch her go about her life.

The characterisation in this book is simply wonderful. Linda herself is someone we all might know, and (just perhaps) cross the street to avoid – but she’s tremendously sympathetic, and there are so many points in the book when you really feel for her. There are some quite wonderful scenes – I particularly loved her trip to the department store, having her makeover at the make-up counter, buying the luxury dressing gown she’ll never be able to wear, extremely funny but also bringing a tear to my eye. And the book is peppered with other distinctive and well drawn characters – her loud mother, her manager at the charity shop, the succession of possible friends, ubiquitous and intrusive Malcolm. The whole book is exceptionally funny at times, and I really loved the writing – for a while I highlighted some of the clever lines that I enjoyed, but soon gave up and allowed Linda’s distinctive voice to carry me along with it.

And when I reached the book’s perfect – and yes, very tidy – ending, I turned back to the beginning and started reading again. I really wanted to understand how the author had done it, to see if I could spot the scaffolding and the building blocks – and I realised that I’d been so caught up in Linda’s life that I’d failed to see the bigger picture, had perhaps seen only what I wanted to see. Despite the strong vein of humour, this is a dark story, often claustrophobic, always compelling, sometimes shocking – and the way the book is structured always had me always following my own assumptions, believing I was one step ahead of the story, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This is, without question, one of my books of the year – the author is an absolute magician, and I’ve never read anything quite like it before. And, whatever your personal reading preferences, I’m sure you’re going to love it too.

About the author

Joanna Cannon’s first two novels, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things about Elsie, were both Sunday Times bestsellers and Richard and Judy picks. She is a regular panellist on radio, TV and at literary festivals across the country. Her writing has appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail and the Guardian, amongst others. Joanna left school at fifteen with one O-level and worked her way through many different jobs before returning to school in her thirties and qualifying as a doctor in her forties. Her work as a psychiatrist and interest in people on the fringes of society continue to inspire her writing.

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6 thoughts on “#Review: A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon @JoannaCannon @BoroughPress @HarperCollinsUK @RandomTTours #blogtour #newrelease

  1. Joanne

    Oh this sounds brilliant! I’m hoping there might be a copy waiting for me when I get home 🤞🏻

    1. Anne Post author

      It’s quite wonderful Joanne – you’re going to love it!

    1. Anne Post author

      And I promise you’re going to love this one too, Karen!

    1. Anne Post author

      Thanks Sara – hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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