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Bluethroat Morning: A literary thriller full of twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing by [Lofthouse, Jacqui]

Bluethroat Morning: A literary thriller full of twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing Kindle Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Six years ago, Harry Bliss's wife Alison, former model and acclaimed author, walked into the sea. She left behind a brief note and a pile of ashes-- all that remained of the novel in which she had immersed herself for months. Oddly captivated by an old sepia photograph of Harry's great-grandfather Charles and his second wife Arabella, Alison was intent on creating a narrative for and about them. As she wrote in her journal, "Think of the striations of the rock at Marsden. No longer shifting of subterranean, the rock now solid; made permanent. The sea's erosion has revealed the layering of time; the pattern beneath the surface. So my imagination must erode the past. The form of the art-work has simply to be revealed."

But what happened when that revelation occurred? What parallels between past and present, self and art, did she find? Harry had been only vaguely aware of Alison's project. Shell-shocked by her suicide, he is only just beginning to emerge from a haze of grief and confusion when he meets Helen, a young woman who looks disturbingly like Arabella. The resemblance spurs both Harry and Helen-- who naively idolizes Alison--to try to unravel the fascination that that photograph held for her, and in doing so, to lay to rest the guilt that haunts Harry. But in traveling to Glaven, the tiny town where Alison spent her final weeks, Harry finds himself caught in a gossamer web of coincidence. As a 90- year-old villager tells Harry, Arabella had drowned herself as well. Harry's growing awareness of the tragic history Alison had discovered underscores his own attempts to understand his wife's last days.

The novel purports to be an exploration of the intersection of female self and literary self. And indeed, the questions at which it hints are in the traditional realm of feminist scholarship: What is the relationship between creativity and fertility? How do female artists reject or subvert a patriarchal system of authority? Must daughters tell their mothers' stories?

But why, then, is Harry's voice the loudest of all? Melodramatically anguished, but undeniably self-complacent, he reigns supreme over the novel, reducing all others to two-dimensional ciphers. Were there any awareness that Harry's obsession has nothing to do with his wife and everything to do with himself, the novel could be a fascinating indictment of the ways in which female creativity can be filtered and muted by a male audience. But both Harry and author Jacqui Lofthouse (The Temple of Hymen) play things perfectly straight. When Harry pouts, upon reading Alison's journal, the reader is expected to sympathize with his self-absorption: "She was intent on her journey but her ultimate goal was obscure. Only one thing was clear: I was not a part of it. At her death, a great chasm of silence opened in my heart. But Alison, in her last notebook, did not pause to contemplate my loss."

When Alison finally speaks for herself in those journal pages, her words are vigorous and devastating, putting Harry's self-absorbed rambling to shame. What a pity, then, that her words are so few. They hint at what her unfinished novel might have been. More ironically, they hint at what Lofthouse's own text could have become. --Kelly Flynn

From Publishers Weekly

Lofthouse's second novel, after The Temple of Hymen, is an intelligently crafted but uninspired psychological suspense story, a whydunit about the suicide of a woman who seemed to have little reason to kill herself. Six years after the death of his young wife, one-time supermodel Alison Oakley, 58-year-old Harry Bliss walks out on his London teaching job barely a week before he is due to retire. He is determined to visit Glaven, the small English town where Alison lived before she walked into the ocean one "bluethroat morning," and discover what exactly led up to her death. After a descent into anorexia at the end of her modeling career, Alison recovered by writing a bestselling, prize-winning novel about the modeling industry. Around the same time, she met and married Harry, who gave her the time and privacy to write. Though bestsellerdom proved nearly as stressful as supermodeldom, Alison had retreated to Glaven and was working apace on her next novel, when she apparently destroyed her manuscript and took her life. Why? Harry is not alone in his quest. He is accompanied by Helen Cregar, the 19-year-old daughter of his best friend and the only woman who has interested him since his wife's death, and followed by hangers-on, journalists and even another academic. The clues Harry needs most are given up slowly by nonagenarian Ern Higham, who teaches Harry about white-throated and blue-throated birds and keeps safe one of Alison's last possessions. Lofthouse convincingly captures Harry's fusty and sorrowful presence, and the passages from Alison's perspective are engaging and penetrating. But no matter how skillfully Lofthouse manages the revelations of her multiple parallel stories, her voice is muted and the narrative lacks resonance. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • File Size: 659 KB
  • Print Length: 553 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books (May 22, 2018)
  • Publication Date: May 22, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,973 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top customer reviews

May 26, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
May 23, 2018
Format: Hardcover
June 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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September 6, 2000
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May 22, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
October 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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