Thursday 10 May 2018

The Curious Heart of Alisa Rae by Stephanie Butland @under_blue_sky @BonnierZaffre #TheCuriousHeart #AilsaRae

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart. 

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland was published on April 19th 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Stephanie Butland is no stranger to Random Things Through My Letterbox. I've read all of her previous books and really enjoyed them. I've read and reviewed Letters To My Husband (previously titled; Surrounded by Water) - April 2014;  The Other Half Of My Heart - November 2015 and Lost For Words - April 2017. I think it's safe to say that I'm a fan of this author.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a very different book, not really what I expected at all, and I found it to be something of a departure from her usual writing style. However, once I'd settled myself into the story and begun to find out more about lead character, Ailsa, I was soon intrigued by the plot.

Ailsa is twenty-eight and has a serious heart condition. Serious enough for her and everyone around her to know that it's a possibility that she could die at any time.  The only thing that could save her is a heart transplant, and whilst she's been waiting for this to happen, she's become a successful blogger with many followers.

The story is not about Ailsa's wait for a heart, but what happens to her after she's got one. Although she's twenty-eight, she's never had to grow up. She's never had to work, or to look after a house. Even the most mundane of decisions have been made for her by her blog followers; she creates polls for almost everything that she needs to decide. After receiving her new heart, which she christens Apple, she knows that she can no longer be a child-woman, she has to find a job, do some exercise, experience the world and distance herself from her ever protective mother.

Stephanie Butland has clearly researched her subject very well. The reader is given an insight into what it must feel like to have a failing heart, to never quite know what's around the corner. It was the little things like Ailsa not being interested in following TV shows, just in case she doesn't get a chance to see the end that really struck home for me. This also leads into her blossoming relationship with Seb; a famous TV actor who has just had a cornea transplant.

I loved the structure of this novel. I like the different ways of telling the story, whether it's a blog post from My Blue Heart, an email, a snippet from Ailsa's past or a newspaper article.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a cleverly crafted story, it's uplifting, often funny, sometimes very emotional, but most of all it is a sensitive and charming story that deals with some serious issues.

Heart-warming, and a lovely read.

Stephanie Butland is the author of beloved bookshop tale 'Lost For Words' and her new novel 'The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae', released in ebook and paperback 19th April 2018 

Stephanie lives in Northumberland, close to the place where she grew up. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and loves being close to the sea. She's thriving after cancer.

Twitter: @under_blue_sky 


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