Thursday 13 August 2020

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall @AramintaHall @orionbooks @FrancescaPear #ImperfectWomen #PerfectionIsOverrated #BookReview

Nancy, Eleanor and Mary met at college and have been friends ever since, through marriages, children and love affairs.

Nancy married her college sweetheart and is now missing that excitement of her youth.

Eleanor put her career above all else and hasn't looked back, despite her soft spot for Nancy's husband.

Mary fell pregnant far too young and is now coping with three children and a mentally unwell husband.

But when Nancy is killed, Eleanor and Mary must align themselves to uncover her killer. And as each of their stories unfold, they realise that there are many ways different truths to find, and many different ways to bring justice for those we love...

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall is published in hardback by Orion on 20 August 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

There is something very special about this book, I was gripped from the opening page and could hardly set it down until the end. The writing is sublime; it is intense and honest and whilst there is a murder mystery at the very heart of the story, this is so much more. The author takes three middle-aged women and explores the tiny intricate details of their lives.

It is, at times, painfully honest and often anger-inducing, as the reader learns that whilst on the surface, a life may seem perfect, it's actually true that there is no such thing, and we are all, in fact, imperfect women.

Nancy, Eleanor and Mary have been friends for many years. They met as young women, just starting out their lives at university. They shared their dreams and hopes for the future, they enjoyed life, they had visions of how everything would become perfect in their futures.

Whilst the three women have all taken different life journeys, they have remained the closest of friends. Meeting regularly, sharing their secrets, but even with each other, hiding their imperfections and creating their lives as they feel they should be seen.

Nancy is found dead, and this is the beginning of the unravelling of the lives of all three of the women. Only Eleanor was aware that Nancy had been having an affair for the past year. Mary is upset when she hears this, and wonders why Nancy had chosen not to tell her about her secret life.
Eleanor also knows that Nancy had been trying to break off the relationship with a man who is only know as 'David', and that he was very upset by her decision. It becomes clear that 'David' is the main suspect in this case.

Araminta Hall slowly, but surely, unpeels the layers that make up the lives of these women. It is engrossing and hard hitting as the reader, and the women themselves, realise that nothing is exactly as it seems.
Eleanor is the only single woman of the three, having put her career ahead of a long-term relationship, however it becomes clear that she is desperate for love, and becomes impetuous and quite self-centred at times throughout the story. Nancy and Mary's family feature heavily in the plot and the reader sees the women through the eyes of their lovers and children, and it's often quite difficult to read; the realisation that despite gender equality and the fact that both Nancy and Mary are intelligent women, they are disparaged and considered lower than their husbands is shocking, but so honest and so real.

The novel is structured perfectly, it is a dark but very powerful read and the characterisation is quite fabulous.  This is a first-class read and sure to be in my top books of the year.

Araminta Hall has worked as a writer, journalist and teacher. 
Her first novel, Everything & Nothing, was published in 2011 and became a Richard & Judy read that year. 
Her second, Dot, was published in 2013, and her third, Our Kind of Cruelty, in 2018. 
She has taught creative writing for many years at a variety of places, including New Writing South in Brighton, where she lives with her husband and three children. 

Twitter at @aramintahall
Instagram @aramintahall

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