My thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. I read my own copy of this book in preparation for this tour, which I had pre-ordered some months ago. This review forms my honest opinion.
Diana and her sister Antonia are house-sharing spinsters who have never got over their respective first loves. Diana owns a gift shop, but rarely works there. Antonia is unemployed, having lost her teaching job at an all girls’ school following a shocking outburst in the classroom after enduring years of torment. Diana is a regular at the local library, Antonia enjoys her “nice” magazines, and they treat themselves to coffee and cake once a week in the village café.
Naomi lives alone, haunted by the failure of her two marriages. She works in the library, doesn’t get on with her younger colleagues, and rarely cooks herself a proper meal. Secretly she longs for a Boden frock.
When a body is discovered in the local quarry, all three women’s lives are turned upside down. And when Diana’s old flame Gill turns up unexpectedly, tensions finally spill over and threaten to destroy the outwardly peaceful lives all three women have carefully constructed around themselves.
Helen takes us back to the fictional Shropshire village of Morevale in this, her brilliant second novel which exposes the fragilities and strengths of three remarkably unremarkable elderly women.
A couple of years ago I read The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson by Helen Kitson and was almost instantly hooked by the murky mindset of its rather unlikeable main character. So, when Louise Walters Books announced the author’s latest novel, Old Bones, I raced to pre-order.
Old Bones is tenuously linked to Maddie by location, both novels taking place in the village of Morevale, and I rather enjoyed picking up on the little Easter eggs scattered throughout pertaining to the first novel; nothing given away, and both can be read entirely as stand alone novels.
This tells the story of three women; sisters Diana and Antonia, and the local librarian, Naomi. The narrative is focused from each woman’s point of view following the revelation of a body being discovered in the local quarry. The event serves as a catalyst for reflection as each woman comes to terms with the past in various ways, and it is the arrival of Gill, a woman who features in each of their past, who causes secrets to be spilled and long held words to be aired.
First off – none of the characters are particularly likeable, a trait I enjoy with my characters – gives them a little more bite in terms of complexity, and the author does a beautiful job at exploring each character. Each woman is portrayed as someone you would assume to be (to put it harshly) ‘old and dull’ if you were just passing them in the street, but I love that the assumption is proven to be entirely incorrect with each woman unraveling her darkest secrets as proof that age is far more than a number, but a product of the experiences we wear about ourselves.
If you’re looking for thrills and twists delivered at a rapid pace – then this probably isn’t for you. What Helen Kitson does deliver however, is intriguing, well-rounded characters brought to life with an engaging and intelligent writing style. Whilst Old Bones didn’t quite match my love for Maddie, it is still an incredibly enjoyable read and I really hope that this won’t be the last we hear from the residents of Morevale.
Louise Walters Books: http://bit.ly/37dpwKM
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2LPuDKI
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/365gdwN
Published by Louise Walters Books in paperback and digital formats on 18th January 2021
About the Author
Helen lives in Worcester with her husband, two teenaged children and two rescue cats. Her first poetry collection was nominated for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She has published three other poetry collections and her short fiction has appeared in magazines including Ambit, Feminist Review and Stand. She holds a BA (Hons) in Humanities.
Helen’s debut novel The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson was published in March 2019. Her second “Morevale” novel, Old Bones, was published on 18 January 2021.