The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen [8/10]

Joanna Glen is out there as a stylist, vividly and quirkily present from the eyes of her vivid, quirky heroes, and with many other authors, I can see myself framing this comment as a criticism. Clunky, earnest, in-your-face characters populate sentimental pap novels. Not so with Glen. Always sharp, often witty, her intelligent prose keeps the reader engrossed and on edge. “The Other Half of Augusta Hope” is her debut and it is a scorcher, relating the weaving tale of Augusta, born as one of two twins to parents she seems to dismiss from early childhood, and yearning for a different, more real existence. Marvellously precocious (for example, drawn towards the country of Burundi from an early age), her life is upended by family tragedy and a new life begins in Spain. Never formulaic, always true, the emerging narrative is a reader’s heaven. The ultimate message is one of hard-won joy. Anyone trapped in lockdown could well use The Other Half of Augusta Hope as a dreamscape into a better world.

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