Monday 23 October 2017

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister @GillianMAuthor #BlogTour @PenguinUKBooks

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.
But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it's him; the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.
Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most - make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

Welcome to my slot on the Blog Tour for Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister, published in paperback by Penguin in January 2018, this is the author's second novel.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my ARC for review.

Earlier this year I was honoured to read an early copy of this author's debut novel; Anything But The Truth, and reviewed it here on Random Things. At the time, I said that Gillian McAllister was an author to watch out for, and I've been eagerly awaiting her second book, but also just a little worried, in case it didn't stand up to her first one.  No worries everyone!  Anything You Do Say is just brilliant, I loved her first book, but this one is absolute genius. It's one of those stories that absorbs the reader whilst throwing up questions all of the time. If I could have read this in one sitting, I would have done.

Joanna is thirty and married to Reuben. They are happy, living in London in a small flat. Reuben is a 'good man'; he's a social worker, a defender of social justice. Joanna is a dreamer; constantly wondering just what her 'thing' will be whilst continuing to work in the mobile library.
Joanna and her friend Laura are in a bar, having a drink. There's a guy, he's interested in Joanna. She laughs, takes a selfie, but when he gets too close she pushes him off and she and Laura leave.

As Joanna makes her way home, late at night, in the dark, alongside the canal. She feels someone following her. Is it the bloke from the bar? She thinks it it. When he gets closer and closer, she lashes out, pushes him. He falls down a flight of concrete steps, and lays there motionless at the bottom.

Joanna is stunned. What should she do?  Run away and try to forget it happened, or call 999 and get help?

Gillian McAllister doesn't chose one way for Joanna. She chooses both ways and the remainder of the story is told in alternate sections, headed 'Conceal' and 'Reveal'.
Conceal is Joanna's story of running, keeping everything to herself.  Reveal is what happens if she calls the police.

This is a brave, adventurous and extremely clever way of telling a story. It's two stories in one, yet the characters are the same. The reader becomes an integral part of this book, making judgements and urging Joanna on. What I found really strange about myself whilst reading was that in 'Conceal', I wanted Joanna to be found out, whilst in 'Reveal' I wanted her to escape a trail and imprisonment - it's an interesting thing to think about; Joanna is the same character in both versions, yet I wanted different things for her, depending on her actions.

Gillian McAllister has drawn upon her own experience of the legal system which adds such an air of authenticity to the story. Her character development is astonishing and whilst I admit that I didn't really like either Joanna or Reuben, I did feel as though I understood them.

Anything You Do Say is bold and original, the writing is razor sharp and the plotting is tight. Incredibly clever, I loved it.

Gillian McAllister graduated with an English degree in 2006 and was a lawyer with a large law firm.
Her blog has been featured in various publications including Company magazine. You can find it at
She lives in Birmingham with her boyfriend and cat.

Follow her on Twitter @GillianMAuthor
Find her Author page on Facebook

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