Martini Henry – Sara Crowe
I very gratefully received this from the lovely folk over at Penguin Random House. When they first contacted me about it and gave me a brief insight into the story I was sold right away, a young writer who is trying to adult? I know that feel, but having read it, I think Sue and I are two very different people.
Life isn’t an exact science. Things can be troublesome. Like pregnant step-mothers, the ins-and-outs of French existentialism . . . having an unexceptional name.
In 1988, seventeen-year-old Sue Bowl has a diary, big dreams and £4.73. What she wants most of all is to make it as a writer, as well as stop her decadent aunt Coral spending money she doesn’t have.
Living in their crumbling ancestral home should provide plenty of inspiration, but between falling in love, hunting for missing heirlooms and internship applications, things keep getting in the way.
So when a young literary professor moves in and catches Sue’s eye, life begins to take an unexpected turn . . .
From the author of Campari for Breakfast, a witty and enchanting novel about what happens after you think you’ve grown up and fallen in love, perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle, Love, Nina and Where’d You Go Bernadette.
Martini Henry is told through Sue’s diary entries and written correspondences, alongside excerpts from a book based at her aunt’s home. While this is one of my favourite forms of narration, Sue’s diaries didn’t have the… shall we say intimacy of those of Bridget Jones or Adrian Mole, Sue appeared to be writing for an audience, almost as though she wanted her diaries to be discovered and devoured. She reminded me a lot of Hannah from Girls – that might be an obscure reference for those that don’t know the show, but both of them have a certain level of self absorption and cluelessness. Sue quite often strayed into Hannah Horvath territory, but there is something very endearing about the clueless and Sue was nothing if not clueless and endearing.
I’ve noticed from other reviews of this book that its described as a slow burner and they could not be more right, this is exactly the sort of thing you can take your time over and really absorb. After the first ninety pages, I really began to engage with Sue and her quirky lifestyle, the various characters she comes across on her course and living in her aunt’s house are all hilariously written and Sue’s naivety and innocence when interacting with them all makes for a very engaging and entertaining read. If that wasn’t enough, every single one of those characters, despite being larger than life, are all people we have come across before, the eccentric Auntie Carol, the kind and quiet Joe and the pompous Quiz.
This really is the perfect read to accompany you on your holidays, so I suggest curling up somewhere, whether that is on a beach, in a hotel, on a plane or next to a ski slope and delving into Sue’s diaries.
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