Today I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing my review of Bluethroat Morning by Jacqui Lofthouse. Originally released in 2001, it is now being rereleased by Blackbird Books on 22nd May 2018. My thanks to Stephanie Zia for inviting me onto the tour.
About this book…
Alison Bliss, celebrity model and critically acclaimed writer, walks into the sea one ‘bluethroat morning’. In death she becomes a greater icon than in life, and the Norfolk village where she lived is soon a place of pilgrimage. Six years later her husband Harry, a schoolteacher, is still haunted by her suicide and faithful to her memory. Until he meets Helen and they fall in love.
Harry and Helen’s relationship initiates a return to the scene of Alison’s death where they meet ninety-eight year old Ern Higham, and a tale is revealed that has been generations in the making. As Harry pieces together a tragic history and finally confronts his own pain, he discovers that to truly move forward, first he must understand the past …
As soon as I saw the blurb for Bluethroat Morning, I knew I had to read it. The North Norfolk setting is one I know very well indeed and I was hoping for a book that brought its beautiful and seductive coastline to life. So I couldn’t have been happier when I began to read and was immediately drawn into its intriguing and shadowy world. This is a long novel and it took me a few days to complete but that’s because I felt consumed by every single word and my reading speed slowed right down. So do make sure you leave some time to explore this mystery, you will not want to rush it!
There’s a haunting feel to the narrative that gives off a dreamlike quality to the enveloping storyline. This is very much a slow burning plot, intensely character driven and the mystery at it’s heart is one that takes the threads of past and present and twists them together to create a compelling tapestry of life and death. When Alison Bliss commits suicide, she leaves behind her devastated schoolteacher husband Harry. But an unexpected relationship with a young girl leads him back to the Norfolk village where Alison decided to kill herself. Will Harry be able to work through the clues to the past and finally move on with his life? I loved how we never actually meet the character of Alison, only delving into her psyche through reading the notebooks she has left behind, but her ghostly presence affected everyone she had come into contact with. Harry’s new relationship became full on very quickly which surprised me as the fast pace of his journey to discover the truth was a huge contrast with his time spent in Norfolk where the pace slowed considerably.
This is a beautifully written and exquisitely plotted novel that uses cleverly crafted characterisation to explore the themes of love, loss and letting go. It is dark but never depressing and contemplative without being judgemental. One of the most expressive and descriptive books I have read this year. A literary masterpiece!
Bluethroat Morning: A haunting and compelling literary mystery is available to pre-order at the special price of 99p from Amazon UK (affiliates link). My review copy came from the publisher Blackbird Digital Books
Meet the author…
Jacqui Lofthouse began her career in radio production and media training. In 1992 she studied for her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia under Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain. She is the author of four novels, The Temple of Hymen (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin 1995/1996), Bluethroat Morning (Bloomsbury 2000/Blackbird 2018), Een Stille Verdwijning, (De Bezige Bij 2005) and The Modigliani Girl (Blackbird 2015). Her novels have sold over 100,000 copies in the UK, the USA and Europe and have been widely reviewed.
Praise for Jacqui’s novels The Temple of Hymen and Bluethroat Morning:
“A remarkable, often beautiful and startling piece of writing. A considerable achievement.” – John Mortimer.
“Deceptive; entertaining and unusual” – Louis de Bernières
“A very impressive book… a superbly recreated historical period and a passionate investigation into femininity, all wrapped up in a mysterious and well-paced narrative.” – Jonathan Coe
“There are many elements to savour in this novel. Lofthouse has a fine eye for the bleak Norfolk landscape and how it both reflects and affects characters’ moods.”- Tracy Chevalier, Author of Girl with a Pearl Earring
A thriller full of twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing. Every word is magical, almost luminous” – Daily Mail
Jacqui has written a blog post about the tour which also explains the background to the main theme of Bluethroat Morning and you can find that HERE