Book reviews

“The Other Half of Augusta Hope” by Joanna Glen (review)

Description: Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.

And she’s right – she doesn’t. At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.

And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.

When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?

My review:

I was so very excited (and honoured) to receive an early proof copy of this from the publisher.

I can honestly say that from the beginning, I was mesmerised. The book is in a dual narrative with alternating chapters between Augusta as you have read, and another character called Parfait. It’s soon apparent that Augusta is writing these memories in the present, looking back on her past.

Burundi’s political unrest and troubled history is brought to the fore in this novel in a heartbreaking and authentic way. I knew a little about this subject but this really opened up the way it affected people so vividly. War is never an easy subject to tackle but it’s done fantastically.

Interwoven with this is the story of Augusta and her family living in suburban Britain. The familiar sights and smells of this neighbourhood are very easy to relate to for anyone in the UK and the sometimes mundane nature of that is something that Augusta starts to rally against from a young age. Her twin sister Julia is more easy-going and wants to please her parents. Despite this, there is a deep bond they share.

They navigate their way through adolescence to adulthood and then comes a significant event on holiday that is alluded to by Augusta before we learn of it. This is a turning point for the whole family and points everything in a new direction.

Augusta and Julia’s relationship is damaged. There are now secrets between them and as they continue through life, a part of the bond they share is no longer the same. Meanwhile, more catastrophic events are also taking place in Parfait’s life and he suffers more tragedy and ever changing circumstances.

As the story develops there are some definite surprises along the way. Julia’s story is very poignant and moving and had me in tears. As their family starts to unravel, I was caught up in the rollercoaster of emotions they experienced.

Parfait’s story is different and original as we learn more of the culture of Spain and of dancing! There are some very poetic and beautiful moments in his life and as his and Augusta’s stories start to intertwine, there is redemption and hope for the future.

This is such an original storyline and definitely unexpected for me. It weaves you in with a spell and is utterly captivating. It’s a coming of age story with a difference and has everything from love and romance to tragedy and family breakdowns. It is a beautiful observation of the way we live our lives and of the human spirit. I loved every moment and when it comes out in June, I’m sure you will too!

“The Other Half of Augusta Hope” is published by Borough Press in June.

(Thanks to Carla Josephson at Harper Collins for my free proof copy).

Until next time,


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