If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel
It is the summer of
1972, and Katie has just turned eighteen. Katie and her town, Elephant
Beach, are both on the verge: Katie of adulthood, and Elephant Beach of
gentrification. But not yet: Elephant Beach is still gritty,
working-class, close-knit. And Katie spends her time smoking and
drinking with her friends, dreaming about a boy just back from Vietnam
who’s still fighting a battle Katie can’t understand. Impeccably
crafted and hugely affectionate, this novel in stories is a vivid
portrait of a place whose conflicts—between mothers and daughters, men
and women, haves and have-nots— reverberate to our own time.
This novel isn't published by Tinder Press until 30th October and I've been hearing good things about it for a while. Each chapter, narrated by Katie, is almost like a short story in it's own right and they don't follow on from each other. Perhaps this is the reason it took me a while to get into it; there's a lot of characters introduced early on and I struggled to remember who was who. For me the book improved in the second half and there were chapters that I loved. It is beautifully well written and I can see in parts why this author has been compared to Anne Tyler. Sadly though the story and characters haven't stayed with me in the way that Tyler's do. When I finished it I was almost straight onto my next read without giving it too much thought.
I don't want to come across as overly negative because as I mentioned previously it is beautifully written and as this is the author's debut it is probably unfair for her to have been compared to Tyler, which increased my expectations. After all the hype I was expecting it to be a 5 star read that would be in my top ten of the year and that isn't the case. A good debut though and I look forward to seeing what the future novels from Judy Chicurel bring.
Thanks to Georgina at Headline for a copy of this book in return for an honest review