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

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Jellybird - Lezanne Clannachan

'It's facing your own secrets that takes the greatest courage.'

We meet Jessica Byrne as she has returned to the coastal caravan park owned by her mother, Birdie. Why has she left her life in London, her lovely husband Jacques, and her growing career and returned here? What has happened? Then we are taken back to earlier in the same year, to a first meeting Jessica has with a woman named Libby, who is interested in buying some of the unique jewellery that Jessica designs and makes. Their acquaintance becomes a friendship which Jessica is glad of, it feels like something she didn't have when she was younger. But Jacques seems uncertain about Libby, and Jessica doesn't understand his reaction, he normally likes everyone. Yet she does see that Libby has a domineering personality, and it seems like she becomes controlling of Jessica at times. Libby admits 'I can be tricky and difficult.'....'She bends and shapes words like balloon animals, Jessica thinks.' Then Jessica notices Jacques and Libby in close conversation together and becomes suspicious.

The narrative then takes us further back in time to when Jessica was a lonely teenager, her parents marriage falling apart, her father leaving the family, her mother distracted. Jessica meets Thomas one day, another lonely, ghostly soul, with a cruel father, and they find companionship with each other. Through the novel we move back and forth as more of the past is revealed, and events move on in the present. It's seventeen years since Jessica has seen Thomas, he disappeared, in a desperate state, and she doesn't know where he is, if indeed he is alive - he was feared drowned at the time. Jessica evidently has deep-rooted issues unresolved from these times, as demonstrated by her self-harming. Revisiting these events, and the vivid memories from her childhood, also brings back thoughts of the unsolved brutal murder that lies hidden there. 

There is plenty of uncertainty and suspense within this tense psychological debut novel,  there were moments and revelations which caused me to think twice, to rethink what I thought I knew, and an ending that I had not predicted. I was absorbed in the story and I enjoyed the twists and turns, though sometimes I think I might have liked an ever so slightly quicker pace to parts of the storyThe portrayal of growing up and of teenage insecurity and searching for identity, and of struggling to get through those difficult years whilst also dealing with family break-ups and disfunction is strong and really convincing; I was impressed by this aspect of the narrative in particular. The author writes well about so many different relationships; close female friends, partners, parents and children, teenagers. I liked how the story moved from the present to the past and back, building the tension. There's a dark tone and an air of menace to some aspects of the story which makes it an unsettling and intriguing read that depicts both lighter and darker sides of life. Jellybird is an intriguing, engaging and suspenseful debut from a talented new writer. It'll be interesting to see what Lezanne Clannachan does next.

Thank you to the author for kindly sending me a copy of her novel for an honest review.

Author links - twitter @LezanneClan | website |
Published by Orion

Other blog reviews - Girl Vs Bookshelf | Reading Matters | Liz Loves Books | Random Things |


  1. So glad you liked this one - I thought Jellybird was great and am really looking forward to reading her new book!

  2. Great review, Lindsay. I'm trying to think of where I've heard about or seen this book before - possibly at our library? I find your reviews very informative and helpful for the volunteering I do there.

  3. Great review!

    I love it that a suspense novel is so filled with characters and relationships that are complex and has depth.

    Libby sounds like some people I know.

  4. 'It's facing your own secrets that takes the greatest courage.' How true that is!
    This sounds intriguing Lindsay, thank you for telling us about
    Have a super weekend, Barbara x


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