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Gilding the Lily Paperback – November 24, 2016
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Fragrant Evelyn is not all she seems to be and the veneer of devoted partner soon develops seismic cracks, but surely her scornful and cutting remarks and actions are misunderstandings? Even when Evelyn lunges for Jack in an attempt to throttle him, Amelia and Jack are still determined to pursue a relationship for the sake of her father. But with each day, it seems, Evelyn is intent on driving a substantial wedge between father and daughter. The physical distance, once they are back in England, only serves to fire the breach in relations. These are very unhappy family dynamics.
As Roger’s health starts to fail and the couple is kept at arm’s length by Evelyn, Jack trawls his memory and comes to an ominous conclusion, based on a case in his past life in the police force. It is too terrible to contemplate, and yet….. driven by his suspicions, the two journey back to New York to try and get to the bottom of what is really going on. What lies behind Roger’s rapid demise? He is clearly very ill. It dawns on them that Evelyn does afterall have a history of outliving past relationships…. Where can it possibly end? No spoiler that lilies of the valley feature somewhere along the line, as they adorn the cover!
The chapters in the book are fairly short, each titled with one of the characters, mainly ‘Jack’ and ‘Amelia’. Occasionally ‘Evelyn’ talks to the proverbial camera and it is through her musings that the reader comes to understand a little more about what her drives might be. The chapters flip between first and third person at random and this undermines the sharp pace that is beginning to build – if a chapter has a character in the heading I would anticipate the narrative would largely be from that character’s perspective or at least full focus would be on that character. Not necessarily so in this book, however. It feels muddled.
The author clearly has a talent for writing, I really did want to know where the story would go. The characters, though, drifted across the pages and for me weren’t sufficiently fleshed out to be able to connect with them.
Overall, I felt that an eagle-eyed editor would be able to coax the storyline, which at times felt like an unruly puppy, into a sleek and seamless narrative with a good focus. The use of editorial services would also be a chance to remove the typos and grammatical errors, and hone some of the writing. Descriptions, such as that of a check-in queue at JFK, ultimately felt like unnecessary padding, the purpose unclear: “I spotted a pair of erstwhile Hasidic Jews, business people, Chinese, African, smart, casual, lazy-looking, happy, fat, thin, hurried, laid back. I saw light hair, dark hair, greasy hair, bald heads, head-scarves, black jacket, no jacket, ties, t-shirts… To me that sounded like an average day at any airport the world over and added nothing to my experience of reading the book (and probably detracted if I am honest).
All in all Gilding The Lily is an ok reading experience in the form in which it is presented at the moment.
Everything seemed to be going swimmingly. Amelia and her husband Jack had even been invited by Evelyn to attend her fathers 75th Birthday party. But not long after touching down from London, the two begin to question Evelyn’s part in Rogers life. Especially when she hires a seedy nightclub, in her fathers worse place in New York, Coney Island, to throw him a surprise party, something that he despises.
Amelia determined to stay on the good side of Evelyn, does everything she can to be friendly, but there is only so much you can take when the woman, who is playing the good ‘pretend’ wife to Roger, starts to treat Amelia and her husband like dirt, and tries to turn her father against her, though not in front of everyone else. What is this woman’s motives, and how does she have such a hold over Roger?
Gilding the Lily is a slow paced thriller. There is no sense of urgency about the plot, yet the book hooked me in. I was pulled completely into the lives of Amelia, Jack, Roger and Evelyn, and couldn’t wait to see where the story would take me. To gild the lily means to give a falsely attractive or valuable appearance to something, and Ms. John certainly chose a title that couldn’t of fitted more perfectly.
The book is written in alternative view points of Amelia and Jack, except for four chapters told by two other characters. Written in this manner, you get to delve into both of the protagonists lives deeper, and really get a sense of what each of them are going through, managing to get inside of their heads.
The storyline throws a lots of curve balls at you, and it certainly didn’t play out how I thought it would, catching me off guard more than once. It’s not only a thriller, its a book exploring the inner lives of families, and tells a cautiously tale of how it can take only one person to destroy many others.
This is the kind of debut novel that holds the bar high for any subsequent novels that follow.
Reviewed by Stacey on Whispering Stories Book Blog
*I received a free copy of this book, which I voluntarily reviewed*
This is told from several viewpoints, but the bulk is relayed via Amelia and Jack, a lovely couple and then there are a handful of chapters from some interesting characters that I can’t name, it would ruin the fun. Roger is Amelia’s father and Evelyn is his girlfriend and you know right from the start there is something off about this cold, calculating woman. As much as I despised Evelyn I adored Amelia and Jack, both together and separately. They were so supportive of each other and while this had a domestic suspense feeling it was nice to read something where the husband and wife aren’t at odds but instead working together as a team.
Despite the chilling opening to this book, it isn’t as fast paced as I would’ve assumed it would be, but the intensity gradually increased the further along you get. Maybe fast paced isn’t the right description, it’s still a page turner and there weren’t any boring parts but I guess what I mean is that by the end things were more pulse pounding. It kept me on my toes and had some revelations that I was not expecting and the ending was great.
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The book is mainly told from a dual perspective, that of Amelia, the daughter of Roger, and...Read more