Publication Date: 14th July from Pan Macmillan
Source: Review Copy
“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”
So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.
While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.
Or so everyone believes. . .
I LOVED this one.
Somebody said Debbie Howells paints with words and in the case of The Beauty of the End she definitely did that – it was intense and gorgeous and whilst on the surface it is a psychological thriller with a mystery element and all that jazz the underneath of it is something very different. The story of a life. And a death. And all the stuff inbetween. About how memory rewrites history and truth can rewrite memory. There is a haunting sense of loss running throughout the narrative that just digs right into your reading soul.
Noah loved April but never really saw her. He himself is an enigmatic character, who in coming to know the real April while trying to help her, comes to know himself. I loved how Debbie Howells added layer upon layer to each of the characters you meet within the novel – playing around with time and those memories, taking you back and forth through the events in their lives, showing one interpretation then turning it all on its head as facts and realities emerge into the light.
I was particularly drawn to Ella whose story is compelling even if in brief – possibly the key to everything, she flits in and out of the tale, always there in the background, telling her story, trying to work out her own place in the world as we too try to work out where she might fit into the wider picture.
Gloriously plotted and absolutely beautifully written, one of those novels where small parts of the prose make you shiver and give a real emotional pull – it is at turns surprising, delightful but for me incredibly sad througout. I did cry at the end of this one – for all the loss and all the rest, the title says it all really.
Evocative and full of sense and feeling The Beauty of the End comes highly recommended from me.
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I’ll be hosting a stop on the blog tour in July – look out for that one!