11 September 2014

Book Review: Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson

"Ben Lawrence seems to have it all - the hot job, the flashy car, the luxurious apartment. But one tragic day in his past mars his future.

Since the events of that day he hasn't truly got close to anyone.

He made a promise that love was the price he would pay for his mistakes.

When Effy Jones - a bright, ambitious charity founder - walks into the PR firm where Ben works, neither realise that their lives are about to be turned upside down.

Paper Swans tells of how love can conquer all, and how when everything is broken one person can help to put the pieces together..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Paper Swans as an eBook or a paperback now.

I am a big fan of Jessica Thompson, and have read both of the books she has released to date. There is something special about Jessica's stories that I really love - a combination of very likeable characters, and a story that completely absorbs you from the minute you begin to the very last page you turn, and Paper Swans, her latest book, was definitely no different. The cover to this book is eye-catching and stunning, cream with gorgeous golden-yellow foil swans, one of the most stunning covers I have seen this year actually. For me, Paper Swans is up there for my 'book of the year' award, and here's why.

To the outside world, Ben Lawrence looks like he has it all. He's got a very successful and lucrative career in PR, he's got a gorgeous flat in the most expensive area of London, a posh car, and no ends of girls to have fun with. But Ben is hiding a devastating secret from his past that threatens to ruin everything he's built up so far. When he meets charity worker Effy, Ben's life is thrown into turmoil. He experiences feelings he is sure he shouldn't be allow to feel, and feels guilty for these feelings. Ben wants to help Effy's new charity succeed but can he get past the quagmire of confused emotions first and lay the past to rest?

I liked that in this book, it was a male protagonist who took the lead, and was the one with the problems from his past. In many chick lit books, they are of course based around women and their problems, but this one was a little different straight away and I liked that. Despite his rather affluent lifestyle, I really liked Ben from the beginning. Yes, he had money but he wasn't overly mad with it, he was a bit haphazard when it came to relations with women he met, but otherwise, he was an all-round good guy, a hard worker, but inside a broken man. I was curious as to what secret was eating him up, because it isn't told to us for a long time in the book, although it's of course alluded to all the way through. As things became more apparent, I did feel incredibly sorry for Ben, and how it affected him so deeply throughout his adult life.

Effy was a breath of fresh air for Ben, and for the book. She added a bit of light where Ben tried to keep everything in the dark, and you can see why Ben was drawn to her. Effy is a charity founder, determined to do right for the people she wants to help in Uganda, and it' s a very noble job, especially in a climate where there are so many charities vying for our money and affection. She and Ben have an instant liking for each other, and I enjoyed how the begin their friendship, and plod along with each other, unsure of perhaps just how to be around each other. The scenes featuring these two characters were beautifully written, from when they meet right up until the end of the book. I cared about them both, and they were perfect in how they were written.

I thought that the author has done a brilliant job in tackling the tricky subject of mental health, the second such book I've read around this topic this summer. Using Ben, Thompson is able to show how easy it is to hide a mental illness from those around you, portraying a carefree lifestyle to those around you, when really you are dying inside and desperately crave help, but have no-one to turn to. It's a powerful and emotive book, I just wanted to be able to hug Ben and tell him it was okay to feel that way, it didn't make him any less of a man - and in fact, using a male in this role was even more powerful for me. People make assumptions that those like Ben, with a high-flying career and money on tap, can't possibly have anything to be depressed about, but that's an ignorant view and simply isn't true. Thompson has clearly done her research on the topic, and it really comes across as such in the book, it's handled delicately and with care.

As I mentioned earlier on, this book is most certainly up there with my contenders for 'Book of the Year 2014', simply because I enjoyed it so much and the writing really was stunning. I enjoyed both stories, that of Effy and Ben, and then when the two stories became combined in a way, it just got better for me. I also love the title - a delicate hint to something fragile but very beautiful, a poignant link to several things in the book in fact. I utterly devoured this book from start to finish, it was emotional yet uplifting, and I loved every page. A stunning read not to be missed.

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