A Year of Orenda – Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Today it’s back over to Mandie with her #50for50 challenge. As part of our Year of Orenda she’s sharing her thoughts on Exquisite by Sarah Stovell. I read this book when it was first released and you can see my thoughts here. Before we see what Mandie thought, here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Amazon

About the Book

She loves me. She loves me not.

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops…

Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books

Mandie’s Thoughts

Whilst it may seem that I have come to this book very late, for me that made it far easier to enjoy as I was not swayed by anyone else’s views nor do I remember if anyone had discussed the twists and turns or the inevitable outcome which can often mar a readers experience. I do think that my sister is finally loving the fact she can discuss books with me without having to worry about revealing anything.

There are always two sides to every story, and then somewhere in between those sides is the truth. Exquisite tells the story from the perspective of Bo Luxton and Alice Dark whose paths initially cross at a writing retreat. What follows is both chilling and disturbing. The book opens with one of the women in a women’s prison in Yorkshire but what is not immediately evident is which one it is or why they are there. As the reader you only discover the who and why the further into the book you get, and the answer to those questions may surprise you. The ending will definitely leave you wondering if anything more sinister is about to happen and thinking that maybe their story is not over.

I will admit that I found the start of the book a slower read than the second half as you are getting to know the characters and how the whole situation developed. That being said, this slow pace helped to build the tension and gave an understanding to the all-consuming relationship between Bo and Alice and how it impacted on those around them. Neither character is exactly likeable, and you do find yourself questioning their version of events, never really trusting either one. At one point I was not over pleased to find Bo dissing Northumberland, a place I absolutely love and return to every year, and at times I wanted to slap Alice and tell her to grow up, a realisation she did eventually come to herself.

What struck me the most about this book was the descriptive writing style of the author that takes the reader right into the heart of the character’s lives. So much so that when you are reading their story you are consumed by what they are thinking and feeling, leaving you doubting the account of the person before. Exquisite is a book that highlights how admiration and respect can easily turn into an obsession that can, and will, take over and ruin those involved.

About the Author

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

Author links: Twitter

Books by Sarah Stovell:

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