Wednesday 8 May 2024

BLOG TOUR: Never Closer - Margot Shepherd

On an ordinary day in 2017, Jo receives a phone call about her 18-year-old daughter, Jessie. It is the call that every parent dreads. In 1940, 17-year-old Alice ties on her facemask and enters a laboratory to harvest a potential new miracle drug called penicillin. The lives of these women become entwined when Jo finds Alice’s diary in a vintage handbag. Past and present overlap and merge as life-changing events resonate for them all across the gulf of time.

This is a story about a diary opening a door on the past, chronicling a young woman’s determination to succeed against all odds, while unknowingly inspiring others to step into a better life. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, the infancy of antibiotics and a modern medical emergency and its consequences, it not only reminds us how fortunate we are to live now, but also serves as a stark warning about the fragility of life and the dangers of complacency.

What did I think?

Oh wow!  What a debut from Margot Shepherd!  I had to actually double check that Never Closer was a debut as it is so beautifully written.  I don't think I can even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed Never Closer and no review I write could really do it justice, but I'll try my best.

The dual timelines in the story are both riveting and I love that the past storyline is told via an old diary that Jo finds in her friend's vintage shop.  Jo didn't realise how linked her life would be to Alice's until her daughter battles for her life against a deadly infection.  An infection that would have claimed many more lives if it wasn't for Alice's work harvesting penicillin in 1940.

I loved the story of penicillin and it's so sad that Alexander Fleming's name is the only one that springs to mind when you think of this life saving drug.  Yes, Fleming discovered it but he did nothing with it and it's only thanks to the work of Professor Howard Florey and the ‘penicillin girls’ that we have access to penicillin today.  If only Fleming had taken a few more steps to further his discovery into development, so many more lives could have been saved especially during World War II.

Captivating, immersive and thought-provoking, Never Closer is an unforgettable book that I will be recommending for a long time to come.  Blending historical fact with enthralling fiction, Margot Shepherd is an exciting new voice in historical fiction and definitely one to place on my watch list.  Very highly recommended - don't miss this book, historical fiction fans!

I received a gifted paperback to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
Margot Shepherd is a British author who was born in Yorkshire where she spent her childhood. She now lives in rural Sussex with her husband and Springer Spaniel, Genni. When she’s not writing she works in medical research at the University of Surrey. She writes about family relationships with a particular emphasis on women and science from a female point of view.

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