Friday 12 February 2021

FREE BOOK PROMO: Sugar and Snails - Anne Goodwin

I'm reposting my review today of Anne Goodwin's fabulous debut novel, Sugar and Snails.  If you sign up to Anne's newsletter in February, you can grab a free copy!  So make sure to sign up HERE

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance... until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

What did I think?

I do love to read books based in the North East; I get that little skip of pride in my belly seeing places I've been and streets I've walked down in print.  I also visited Cairo many years ago which created my love for Egyptology, so I was getting a double whammy in this book.  Unfortunately for me, Cairo doesn't feature greatly, as it is about the event that happened there in Diana's past rather than the city.  Location aside, Sugar and Snails is such an exceptional and unique book that deals with some difficult subjects in a sensitive and honest manner.  Anne Goodwin has created a character in Diana that you instantly care about because of her insecurity, but Diana is stronger than she thinks and the reader has the honour of joining her on a journey that sees her fear peeling away like the layers of an onion.

Diana Dodsworth is a junior lecturer at a university and, with a select group of only a few friends, it is clear that she likes to keep herself to herself.  One night at a dinner party she meets Simon and it is clear that there is an attraction there but there's something holding Diana back.  Despite Diana constantly pushing him away, Simon is undeterred and their relationship grows.  When Simon is offered a position in Cairo he wants Diana to come out to visit him but Cairo holds painful memories for her and she is loathe to apply for a passport to join him.  As Diana's past is revealed, it becomes apparent why she doesn't want to travel to Cairo and I felt such terrible anguish for her.  Will their relationship survive the distance?

This was such a heart-rending story and it is very difficult to review without spoilers.  Suffice to say my heart was breaking at the pain Diana has endured in her life.  From parents who didn't understand her, and even took her on a trip to Lourdes to cure her, to confusing teenage years when every teenager just tries to find out who they are.  Some passages are difficult to read and I had a clenching tummy on more than one occasion, but my discomfort was quickly surpassed by my feelings for Diana's wellbeing.  Diana feels so alone and scared but when she overcomes her fear she finds out that true friendship is more than skin deep.

So hopeful and heart-rending, Sugar and Snails is an amazingly brutal and honest story about one person searching for their place in life.  Diana is perhaps more honest than most people can ever hope to be and I applauded her bravery throughout the book.  Sugar and Snails is emotional and intelligent and well worth 5 stars from me.

I received an ARC from the author and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Anne Goodwin is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Throughout February, subscribers to her newsletter can read Sugar and Snails for free:  CLOSES 28 FEB 

Twitter @Annecdotist
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