by Ruth Hogan
Publisher: Two Roads
Date of Publication: 7th Feb 2019
Date of Review: 20th Feb 2019
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.
Many years later, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all …
Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … but it can also turn out to have a happy ending.
Ruth Hogan has a unique voice that captures the very essence of the contemporary ‘Uplit’ genre. Rich in imagery, from both Hogan’s unparalleled language to Tilda’s metaphorical black dog that has been her companion since childhood, this enchanting narrative will have you hooked. The story is structured around a past and present timeline: with grown-up ‘Tilda’ narrating the present storyline in first-person; and the past timeline told from the third-person limited perspective of ‘Tilly’ the child.
This dual perspective works really well. The first-person narrative gives a sense of here and now as to what is happening in Tilda’s life as an adult, but even though it is Tilda’s story and places the reader in her shoes, there is still an element of doubt as to her reliability as a first-person narrator. To Tilda, Eli is an ordinary dog; her faithful companion. But not everybody can see him. This questions just how reliable is her opinion of her mother? Was she really that terrible? Or has Tilda got it wrong? This question drives the narrative forward: just what is the real truth?
The past time-line is cleverly interwoven through a combination of backflash and epistolary. When Tilda discovers her mother’s old diaries, this not only gradually reveals her mother’s perspective but also triggers memories of specific events in the eyes of ‘Tilly’ the child.
Hogan’s observation of life through a child’s eyes is wonderfully perceptive and Tilly’s childlike voice shines through, making what is essentially a heart-breaking story into what, at times, is a belly-roaring laugh out loud narrative.
Thank you to the publisher
for an Advance Review Copy of this book
in return for an honest and unbiased review.
About the Author