Tuesday 15 May 2018

BLOG TOUR: Bluethroat Morning - Jacqui Lofthouse

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 ...

What did I think?

Blackbird Books don't publish a lot of books, compared to other publishers, but when they do it's sure to be a good one.  Quality is the word that springs to mind when I open a book published by Blackbird Books and Bluethroat Morning by Jacqui Lofthouse is of such an outstanding quality that I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops.

Harry Bliss has to deal with the awful after-effects of his wife's suicide.  A successful model then author, Alison Bliss walked into the sea at the height of her writing career leaving a burnt manuscript behind.  All fingers pointed at Harry for burning Alison's next novel but he professes his innocence.  Even after six years have passed since her death, Alison Bliss still intrigues young and old alike.

An old family photograph of Harry's was the inspiration for Alison's lost novel and the woman in the photograph bears an uncanny resemblance to Harry's friend's nineteen year old daughter, Helen.   Harry is drawn to Helen, albeit he doesn't resist very much, and the pair pick up Alison's trail which led to her death.  What secrets did Alison uncover when she stayed at Hope Cottage in Glaven?

There is so much to talk about in Bluethroat Morning; among other things there are Bliss family secrets, Alison's personal insecurities and Harry's mid-life crisis.  Although heartbreaking to read, it was quite eye-opening to read how insecure beautiful, successful Alison Oakley/Bliss was.  Beauty doesn't necessarily equal happiness and I so wish that impressionable young women read Bluethroat Morning to understand that.

I loved the almost treasure hunt style of unearthing family secrets.  Charles Bliss and his new bride, Arabella, along with Charles' son, George, are in the old photograph that intrigued Alison so much.  George is Harry's grandfather who died before he was born.  The mystery surrounds Arabella though, as she also mysteriously committed suicide in Glaven.

On to Harry's mid-life crisis.  As inappropriate as his relationship with Helen was, you can't help who you fall in love with.  The question is whether it was love at all; he used the word to keep Helen from running back to her parents but he knew exactly what he was doing and na├»ve Helen believed him.  Don't get me wrong, Helen wasn't as innocent as I perhaps make her sound but I certainly think that Harry manipulated her for his own ends.

One final thing I have to mention is Alison's reminiscence about a holiday in my native North East of England.  Although I'm a Jarrovian, I was born in South Shields and spent many a Sunday exploring Marsden Rock (before the collapse of the arch).  Jacqui Lofthouse's description of these beautiful limestone sea-stacks is absolutely sublime and I was effortlessly transported to Marsden beach through her stunning descriptions.

Bluethroat Morning is an impeccable piece of fiction that has the feel of a literary classic and I got the impression that Jacqui Lofthouse has carefully chosen each and every single word.  It's a book that will fit across many genres and definitely one I would recommend for discussion at book clubs.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Michelle, for your fantastic review and for your kind words about Blackbird - quality over quantity is very much our #authorpower ethos.