Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Apple Tart of Hope - Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

‘He wasn’t just my friend. He was kind of magic.’

I previously read and enjoyed Back to Blackbrick, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s debut novel, so when I saw she had written a second novel, I was keen to read it, and when I saw the lovely title and the beautiful cover design, I was even more attracted by it.

Oscar and Meg live next door to each other, and have done for years, and they chat to each other through their facing bedroom windows. The pair of them have developed a close friendship, and brighten up each other’s lives:

‘We got to sitting at our windows, late at night, at the end of every day. He was different from anyone I’d ever met, and when Oscar was my friend, nothing was annoying or complicated. Everything was simple and enjoyable and fun. Everything made sense.’

As the story opens, we learn that Oscar is missing, presumed dead by suicide, though Meg, as well as Oscar’s brother Stevie, wont believe it. Then we are taken back to several months before, and the story tells of Meg’s father taking his family to New Zealand with him for six months with work, with Meg bitterly opposed to going. Alternating chapters, ‘slices’ of an apple tart, are recounted from Meg’s, and then Oscar’s, perspective, and gradually reveal how Oscar and Meg’s friendship is changed when she does go. A new girl, Paloma, and her mother, move into Meg’s house temporarily. With regard to the book’s title, Oscar has a heightened sense of when something particular is in the air, and this is when he bakes one of his remarkable apple tarts which improved people’s feelings and helped with troubles.

I felt this story had real depth, and dealt honestly and compassionately with strong emotions and serious decisions. At times it was also rather magical which just added an extra element of sparkle to a great tale. I liked Meg and Oscar, and I was compelled to read on and discover what happened to them both, why had things changed, what had caused so much sadness? There are themes of love and friendship, the difficulty and sadness of separation and loss, as well as belief and honesty, manipulation and jealousy. The story shows how strong a connection we can feel for another person, and how nerve-wracking and all consuming it can be when we try to convey our feelings, and how devastating it is if we suspect our feelings aren’t reciprocated, and all this even more difficult to deal with as a teenager.

It’s a fairly quick read and is really well written with some lovely use of language; I liked this description of one of the character’s homes; ‘Barney’s house stood battered and gloomy, as if it was in a sulk from having gone to the elaborate trouble of being built and then having been neglected so badly that it looked as if nobody lived in it.’ Overall this is another very good young adult (and indeed adult) offering from this talented author.

Thank you to amazon vine for a review copy of this novel. 

Author links - twitter @SMooreFitz |
Published by Orion Children's Books


  1. I love the excerpts you posted and this sounds like a really in depth book. I will have to look for this one. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Loving the title. Looking at the cover I was expecting a fun read but this obviously is a novel with some depth.

  3. I like how you describe, and I like that the book, seems to dig deeply into human relations as they relate to connections and emotions., romantic and otherwise. Thus this sounds really good.


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