Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder: Holly Kerr

Good afternoon readers, it’s a been a little while since I reviewed a book so apologies. If I’m completely honest although I absolutely loved taking part, understandably the book review challenge took it out of me, and after writing a number of 101 things posts and a follow up to the review challenge I’m back with a review of a blinder of a book. I fell for Holly’s writing style a number of months back when I reviewed her book ‘baby, baby, baby,’ now retitled ‘Unexpected.’ Which you can read here however I have to confess I actually enjoyed this one a little more. It’s undoubtedly because the plot line is something I can relate to more strongly, but I also loved the twist right at the end that turned this from cosy read to a thrilling roller-coaster that I just couldn’t stop thinking about even after I turned the last page. A very intricate and wonderful book that I cannot wait to share!

The book follows the boozy night out of four friends, celebrating not only a fortieth birthday but a well needed catch up. The girls, made up of Josie, Lana, Poppy and Meredith, all have secrets getting dangerously near the surface and as the night wears on, the nightclubs get a little seedier, and the booze starts flowing even more freely, tensions are going to start rising. Josie is determined that her wonderful husband Duncan is cheating on her and although the others are desperate to discourage this, she can’t quite help the doubts. In complete contrast Poppy won’t talk about her husband Kent’s obvious betrayal and her cold demeanour is making the others a little uncomfortable. Lana is still not over the split from her once rosy relationship with Ted, Poppy’s brother however her sudden ending of the marriage is creating sparks from both Josie and Poppy and for some reason or other Meredith is looking a little guilty. As the secrets begin to worm their way to the surface, it looks like the friendship could be over for these four lovely ladies.

First things first I loved the time period of this book, set over just one night out; we get to follow the highs and lows of this lovely clique of girls. Following them through the night and seeing the strains of each brimming, and then suddenly relaxing as each slowly gives away a piece of the puzzle was a complex task and Kerr handles it perfectly. I thought the characters were incredibly well built up and explained. Josie was my favourite, both the peace keeper but also a little rebellious, her drive and passion but soft nature made her a wonderful character and I’m sure she would make a delightful friend. Lana is lusty and suggestive however when the cracks begin to show we see that she hides her insecurity deep below and as the girls push each other to the limits in terms of their friendships the soft centre of her personality begins to show. Meredith is a carefree and untroubled character, she is cheerful and blithe but she doesn’t quite give us the whole story and you’re constantly waiting to find out more about her. Poppy is a difficult and ambiguous character but that helps to make her story so much more poignant. She’s closed off and quite stern throughout but we learn through flash backs from Josie that she didn’t used to be like that and that Kent has completely changed her, for the worse.

I loved the way the story was told, moving between the characters one by one to give a different view point of the night as time wore on, chapter by chapter. Although the chapter are well labelled as to who is telling the story it did take a number of pages to get completely used to it, but once you catch on and learn more about the characters it became easier to follow. It worked particularly well when a ‘piece of the puzzle’ was revealed because you could then see acutely the inner reactions of the other characters making it more personal and intriguing. The interweaving stories were wonderful and although were all based on their relationships because they contrasted in terms of why so heavily it helped to make the drama all the more explosive.

I don’t want to give too much away but I also loved the inclusion of the fifth friend Ellie. At the start she is mentioned frequently but we don’t get too much information and as we move through the book we understand that the death of the fifth member of the group is a constant ache that is both fuelling and quelling the strains of the group. (This isn’t a spoiler by the way, it becomes apparent quite early in the book.) The constant awareness of her missing is both a driving force to keep the group together and leads to a number of reasons that are causing conflict. The story moves with pace, notably because we only have a night in terms of narrative time however each chapter a little nugget of information is given to the reader helping to keep the reader desperate to read on. I won’t spoil the book but as the plot finally comes to a conclusion the author thrusts the information right into the face of the reader and we suddenly learn the terrible truths between the five girls. In the last four chapters or so the book turns from cosy read to full on thriller and I couldn’t believe it. The ending left me both reeling and desperate to read the book again.

My only negative comment is that I didn’t like the front cover at all; I know this seems a little fickle but I think something a little moodier like a dimly lit cocktail bar with a shot glass in the foreground would have worked a lot better. The cover is a little too bright for the murky interweaving tales of the girls however this is a very small negative.

I don’t give stars because I don’t believe in rating books from one to five because of the different layers that make up a rating however this one would be really up there if I did. I hear a lot of bad press about self-published books and every so often I find one that makes my bookish heart sing. When this wonderful book is released grab yourself a copy and sit down to this wonderful murky, girly, boozy tale because it’s actually brilliant.


9 thoughts on “Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder: Holly Kerr

  1. hollykerrauthor says:

    Oh Lizzy! I had 2 covers to pick from and the other was dark and moody! I thought it was too witch-like so I went bright! THANK YOU so much for your review!!! I hope everyone enjoys it as much as you did!!!

  2. littlebookblog says:

    Reblogged this on mylittlebookblog and commented:

    Lots and lots of posts for this birthday celebration, and lots more to come over the next couple of days; don’t forget two wonderful giveaways from some truly brilliant authors and some really wonderfully written guest posts. For this post I wanted to do a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) style post to a review that really opened my eyes this year and helped to secure my beliefs that taking self-published books was something I really need to keep doing and that this blog is just, so right at the moment.
    I’ve toyed with closing my review requests box for a little while because I’ve felt it’s getting a little out of hand. Even if I review two books a week which I attempt to, the number of requests coming through is at least double that a week. I’m not grumbling at all, it’s a wonderful thing having all these authors asking me for review, it honestly, honestly means the utter world. But I’ve felt a little like I’m treading water and I’m not sure how to get out. However every so often a book comes along that makes you think yes, this is why I keep going, and this is why I do this.
    This book and this review are two of my favourites in the history of mylittlebookblog. I don’t mean that it was better or that it was the best that I’ve read, but it did two things for me as a reviewer.
    1) It showed me that although you can read ten, twenty, thirty above average self-published books that although a good read don’t quite push the right buttons, one with sneak up behind you and just make you sit up and listen, and want to find that next brilliant self-published work.

    2) Secondly, it was the first review in a long time (maybe not quite ever) that I got it all in. I re-read it today just to double check and it just felt like yes, that’s it. I could not have put that better. The essence of the book, the writing style, what made me love that book is just there.

    I love blogging and I especially love being a book blogger. It’s kind of become something so inherently part of me that a couple of weeks ago when someone introduced me as this is Lizzy she runs a really successful book blog (not sure how much of that is true) I realised that this is a thing that has pretty much taken over my life. It’s strange because it’s just me rambling to the internet and yet at some point this became so important that I can’t imagine not doing it.
    I’m going to stop my rambling now because this is getting a little emotional and I really just wanted to share a review of a really good book. I’m going to keep saying thank you throughout this week but thank you all of you for making this feel so wonderful and so right and so just me. It’s been a blast so far. *sniffles*

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