Monday 21 June 2021

Everything is Beautiful - Eleanor Ray

When Amy Ashton's world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection.

Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.

Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves - soon there'll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy's carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she'd lost still be hers for the taking?

Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places 

What did I think?

I see a lot of books claiming a comparison to Eleanor Oliphant, which I absolutely loved and found to be completely unique, however, I think the comparison does apply to Everything is Beautiful as Eleanor Ray's debut novel is similarly quirky with a surprisingly dark undertone.  So yes indeed, Eleanor Oliphant fans, you will love this book!  I planned to read it over 3 days but it barely lasted 24 hours as I couldn't put it down.

Amy Ashton reminded me of Bagpuss, collecting treasures that others have cast away and fixing them with super glue just like the marvellous mice on the mouse organ.  Amy hasn't always been a hoarder, it's just since her boyfriend and best friend went the same time.  The police believe that all the evidence points to Tim and Chantel running off together but neither of them have been heard from since.  All Amy wants is closure but in the meantime she has empty wine bottles and lighters, among other things, to remind her of happier times.

This book is so beautifully written it left me surrounded with a lovely warm glow.  There are some devastating moments and I could barely hold back the tears at times as Amy's history is revealed.  You just never know how much pain people are carrying around with them and if collecting things makes Amy's life more bearable then I don't see what harm it is doing to anyone.  I think it's lovely how you can find a seemingly innocuous object and suddenly be transported back in time.  We all carry treasured memories around with us but sometimes they need a little nudge to bring them to the fore.

Utterly charming and completely compelling, Everything is Beautiful is an absolute delight to read and an outstanding debut.  This uplifting, hopeful and quirky book reminded me that there really is beauty in everything if you choose to look for it - I loved it.

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