29 July 2019

Review: The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen book cover
* Copy courtesy of Harper Collins Australia *

"My parents didn't seem the sort of people who would end up killing someone." The opening line of The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen had my immediate attention and I found the voice of the main character compelling.

Born to average middle class parents, Augusta Hope lives at 1 Willow Crescent in Hedley Green. Augusta reads the dictionary for fun and couldn't be more different from her twin sister. Studying the globe and the names of all the countries, Augusta decides Burundi has the most beautiful sounding name and sets out to learn all she can about it.

Parfait lives in Burundi and we hear about his life amidst poverty and civil unrest in Africa intermittently between Augusta's chapters. The alternating chapters are expertly linked and connect well despite the characters living disparate lives.

This is a coming-of-age story and Augusta yearns to leave Hedley Green and live the life of a gypsy she reveres in a book of fairytales. Family tragedies complicate matters as Augusta navigates her way through life as best she can. Parfait is also struggling and wants to escape the bloodshed in Burundi with his siblings to Spain.

Spain features quite heavily in this contemporary novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed the focus on words and language by both characters throughout the story.

Comparisons are being made to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman but I don't think the comparison is a good one. Augusta is her own character and while highly intelligent, she is able to socialise well with others. There are no comical social faux pas here.

This is a story about the dynamics of family, the love between siblings, suburban life and a middle class upbringing in England. It's also about the meaning of home, tragedy, grief, regret, loss and love. 

The Other Half of Augusta Hope is a solid debut by Joanna Glen and I highly recommend it.

My Rating:

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