Cover Image: Darling

Darling

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Member Reviews

When I first started this novel, I thought at last a novel that bravely covers the racism  that has been raised over Brexit but then it seemed to just become another love story with a stepdaughter who doesn’t care for her father’s girlfriend..  An average read for me.
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Darling is an addictive, shocking, twisting thriller that had me hooked from the first few pages.  I enjoyed the dual narratives - from Darling, black step mother and Lola, teenage nightmare - the lurking suspicions and the cranking up of tension, and I certainly didn't see the twist at the end. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Caribbean food woven through the story as Darling sets about nurturing her new blended family.  This is well written, lots of layers, bang up to date, well worth reading.
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It has taken me a while to process and digest this one yet I am still left thinking “What the hell was that?!!” It is the day after the Brexit result and Darling (a single parent of Jamaican heritage) is rescued from racist abuse in a corner shop by Thomas. Within just a few short months they are married and a new life begins for them both. The only spanner in the works is Thomas’ teenage nightmare, sorry I mean daughter, Lola. 

Although alternate chapters are told from Darling and Lola’s perspective, I initially found the interactions quite pedestrian and textbook given the situation. Lola in particular was grating, apparently willing to sacrifice any sense of morality for shallow, short-term gain. There are interesting racial undertones between the two which really resonate, as Lola casually falls into extreme Right-wing politics in an effort to impress a boy. 

Then more sinister undertones begin to emerge but I did not see the ending coming. It was quite a shock and it is always an achievement in literature to write like this. Yet it would be unfair to say that it was a wholly satisfying ending. As other readers have pointed out, there were a number of issues which remained unexplained or unclear. 

For me the book tried to achieve too much, with elements of a thriller, social commentary, chick lit, etc. It would have succeeded more by focusing on one or two of this myriad of identities, rather than trying to do it all and falling short. For different reasons I felt myself unmoved by both of the main characters and the cast of supporting characters were little more than outlines. An interesting and original premise overall, but fell a little short of the mark in execution.
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great little thriller, trying to work out the narrator's motives kept me reading at every opportunity
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Wow, this wasn’t what I was expecting at all! I’d expected more domestic tension / family drama but in fact it was that and more.... a bit of domestic noir, racism, far right extremist parties and a few very unreliable narrators all get thrown into the mix.  So it was great, really refreshing to read something original, from two very different but very authentic POVs. 

Some great twists and turns and a conclusion I certainly never saw coming!  Moves domestic noir on into a far more diverse audience. More please!
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A slow, (eventually) compelling exploration of mental illness and twisted love. The book promises to be about race and - ghastly - Brexit, but fortunately is, in the end, about much more besides. I enjoyed this book, but would have loved it more if it weren't for the apparently obligatory prologue, so obviously designed to raise questions and tease. And also, if at least one of the characters had been genuinely likeable.
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This was a really interesting and gripping read.  A story of a new wife and a resentful stepdaughter.  Darling and Thomas have fallen quickly and madly in love.  They marry very soon into the relationship and bring the blended family together - Thomas' teenage daughter Lola and Darlings' disabled seven year old.  Written very differently via the voice of Darling and the journal of Lola.   A story that gets darker as you delve deeper.  Secrets, racism and surprises with an awesome ending.
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I enjoyed this book, reading it quickly. I wanted to know about the dynamics in these relationships and how it would end. The daughter came across as bratty and spoiled but I felt empathy when she shared her guilt about her mother's death. The wife tried hard to fit in but had a lot of hangups. The dad was just blind to a lot of the angst going on in his life. Great syory
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I’m a massive fan of unreliable narrators, and I love finding stories that are either told from an unexpected point of view, come from a fresh new author, or comment on issues that are so contemporary, they’ve hardly featured in fiction as yet. This story manages to combine everything in my list. It starts out as an examination of those left floundering after the UK referendum result, but also touches on the feelings of dissatisfaction amongst other groups that led to the vote and its outcome in the first place. However, this novel encompasses far more than the clash of ideologies I’ve just referred to and brings in a whole raft of other issues that have fallen out of the headlines over the past decade or two.

Darling White is a black British woman struggling to bring up her young son, who himself is facing a progressive and debilitating genetic condition. She has help from the boy’s father and from a group of fundraisers who organise events to help with research into her son’s treatment, but is estranged from her few living relatives. On the morning following the Brexit vote, Darling encounters overt racist abuse from those who believe the referendum’s outcome gives them the right to voice, and put into action, their obnoxious opinions and bigotry. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of Thomas, a handsome, white American-born widower, who intervenes and then seeks Darling’s advice in return on what to buy his daughter as a birthday cake.

The pair arrange to meet again under pleasanter circumstances, and a whirlwind romance ensues, much to the horror of Lola, Thomas’ daughter, who would like her father all to herself or, failing that, in a relationship with the mother of one of her friends. Thomas is a successful architect, and Lola is horrified at the thought of acquiring a stepmother who is not only black, but also considerably beneath them on the social scale. Nevertheless, Thomas and Darling are soon living together in the house he designed for his first wife and, shortly after that, they marry. All the while, Lola is involving herself in right wing hate groups, via the boy she has a crush on (and an on-off relationship with). He promises her that he’ll get rid of Darling, but it turns out that she has secrets of her own, including a past connection to some of the adults running the group he’s a member of.

This book had me gripped with all its unexpected twists and turns. Darling is our primary narrator; however, we also get to know Lola through her journal and her lists of accomplishments – written down on the instruction of her therapist. We know all along that something bad is going to happen to one of them, but which one and how that event happens were totally unexpected to me all the way through the book. Darling’s hidden issues are revealed only very slowly as the story progresses, and as more people from her past appear in her new life to tell their stories.

Although this novel is ostensibly about a very particular point in the UK’s here and now, I doubt it will date as fast as many other contemporary stories, because it also speaks of issues that aren’t going away any time soon. I can’t wait to find out what the author has in store for us next.
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Darling meets Thomas the day the Brexit results come in. she's soon introduced to his daughter Lola, who 'didn't think her dad liked black women'. Three months later, Darling and Thomas are married, and they, along with sixteen year old Lola and five year old Stevie, Darling's disabled son, are setting up a new life and a new family, one that Darling is determined to make the best of.

There follows a twisty novel - Darling is determined to care for Lola, to smother her with kindness until they can be one big family. Lola is scheming to get rid of Darling, perhaps her new friends in a right-wing group can help.

Darling received phone calls that she doesn't answer. Lola's bulimia has returned. And Darling keeps finding skimpy underwear strewn around the house ...

This book builds up beautifully, showing the interplay between stepmother and stepdaughter, whilst Dad (a little two-dimensionally) appears to be oblivious. Told from the point of view of Darling and Lola's diary entries, it's very easy to believe everything your narrator tells you, when perhaps that is only part of the truth.

All of this builds up to a masterful ending that you only really begin to suspect about three quarters of the way through -more psychological thriller than suburban drama. The blurb for this book really doesn't do it justice.
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Omg still very much "What did I just read?" with this. It is a stunning, gripping, drama-packed book and despite reading a couple of spoilerish reviews I still didn't see what happened coming, it keeps you guessing and delivers many eyebrow raising moments! A very astute story regarding Brexit and the rise of the far right also. A book that needed to be written!
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Oh boy, this book, THIS BOOK! It is definitely one of those books that makes you go "what did I just read?!" when you've finished it. It would have confounded all of my expectations if I hadn't seen a slightly spoilery review when I added it to Goodreads which made me connect some dots I might not have otherwise (thanks for that internet stranger), but the twists were still VERY twisty and compulsively readable. In fact it's so unputdownable that I finished reading it on a long bus journey despite the fact that reading on the bus makes me feel sick!

The book takes place in the months following the Brexit referendum, a peculiarly dark, depressing, and confusing period which fits the mood of the book perfectly. The story is mostly told from the perspective of Darling, with Lola's viewpoint scattered throughout. I have to say that the Darling chapters worked better for me - the Lola chapters felt like the 'teenage' voice was a little bit forced. That's not to say that the Lola chapters were bad. It was interesting to hear the other side of the story, and as both narrators had an air of Unreliable Narrator about them it was still almost impossible to decide who to trust!

I really loved this book, I've already told my best friends to read it (partly so I have someone to discuss it with!), and I sold it to them as "if Lianne Moriarty wrote a book set in Brexit Britain" which I think is fair! It's a cracking domestic thriller that also shines a light on the ugly side of Britain which is becoming (sadly) ever more prevalent.
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Lola lives with her Dad, Thomas. They are pretty much rubbing along OK since the death of her mother. Until that is the day he meets Darling and falls for her. Their relationship blossoms and soon they are discussing wedding plans. Problem is, Lola doesn't want or need a new mother. Especially one like Darling. To say she is jealous would be an understatement. But that isn't all, there's the whole "colour" thing to be had too. Quite simply, she doesn't like Darling and to be honest, Darling doesn't seem to much like her either. They have a few spats initially with Thomas trying to play peacemaker as Lola acts like a really rather bratty petulant child. Things progress further and soon Darling moves herself and her disabled son, Stevie, into Lola's home. And then things take a rather different turn. Darling's behaviour becomes a bit strange, she obviously has some secrets and there is something/someone that she is avoiding. 
It's so hard to say anything more about the story here as it turns out that, like many stories, things are not always as they seem to be. It took a rather strange turn at one point and this really did turn everything on its head somewhat. A turn that even I, a hardened reader of this genre, didn't see coming in a month of Sundays! So very very clever. Well done that author. It made me want to go back and re-read the whole book with this new knowledge. Oh I wish I had time to do just that. It would be fascinating reading with hindsight. Maybe one day when I get my tbr under control.
The story is told alternatively by Lola and Darling. Lola's sections are written in a way you would expect from a girl of her age, full of short statement and #hashtags to put her thoughts and feelings across. I did find these initially a bit hard to read but, once I got more into the book, they started t settle down for me. Darling's parts are more classic in nature and provided the most of the storytelling. I did feel that I would have liked to have got more of Thomas's side of things as he was just portrayed by others. I thought his voice would have been a bit of a welcome addition at times. But maybe this is as the author intended as the battle was really between the two women in his life and he was just the middle man, caught up in the whole whirlwind and was depicted as such.
There was also quite a bit of politics thrown in for good measure. The book is set around the time of the Brexit vote and the author uses that to add some colourful prejudice into the mix. Lending more sympathy to Darling and her place in the story. 
All in all, a satisfying read that delivered what it promised. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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I was intrigued by the premise of this story straight away. It is set in the immediate aftermath of the results of Brexit  and I was so interested to read about this setting given that it is still such an ongoing and extremely divisive issue in the UK. Not only that but the racial issue of a white stepdaughter, Lola, and black stepmother, Darling, was intriguing to me. I wanted to know if racial issues would play a major role on the storyline and they definitely did.

The story is told alternately by Darling and Lola. Lola's chapters were absolutely crammed with teenage angst, hashtags and phrases that made me feel extremely old. Her parts were quite hard to read at first as they were so disjointed and rather jarring. Either her chapters toned down or I just got used to it but I soon got in the flow of the book and about halfway through it became SO gripping.

The story was told in such a casual way to start with as we get to know Lola and Darling respectively and how Darling becomes stepmother. When the plot started to reach crucial points, the pace of the story quickened and towards the end MY GOD so many twists that I absolutely did not see coming. 

One problem I had with this novel was the middle man... As in Thomas, who was Lola's father and Darling's new husband. I felt like I knew nothing about him. He seemed like such an insignificant background character and I felt that even Lola and Darling were detached from him because there was no meaningful interaction or anything with him. It didn't feel right to me, considering the fact that HE was supposed to be the whole reason why Lola and Darling were enemies and competing for Thomas's love and attention. Given all of this, I thought that Thomas should have been much more prominent in the story or at least knowable to the reader.

Apart from this, and overall this book is well worth a read. The ending was so explosive and there were several shock reveals which all lead up the final moment. This book definitely left me reeling slightly and it was one of those endings where I was like... but why?!?!?!? Also, my opinions of the characters did a complete 180 reverse by the end and I did not expect that at all. This book was also really important for its portrayal of racial tensions post-Brexit and how that changed many peoples' experiences. 

The latter half and the authentic portrayal of important issues really saved this book for me (I also love the cover).
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I honestly wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going in with this book. Is it a domestic drama? Psychological Thriller? Bit of both? However, I think its actually best to just go with it and not try and define it too much. The first thing to say is that I liked how current Darling feels. it is set just after the Brexit vote in 2016 and whilst this is not a major plot point, the storyline does demonstrate some of the unfortunate repercussions of the vote, namely a rise in crimes with racist undertones. I thought it was really interesting to see Brexit in a work of fiction. Another big issue in Darling is racism itself and the corrosive effect it can have on it’s victims. The casual racism from some characters is actually all the more shocking because it is so recognisable. The phrase ‘I’m not racist, but…’ which is usually followed by a clearly racist statement is one I’m sure most readers will have heard at some point which makes it hit home just a little harder.
To be frank, neither of the main characters in Darling are particularly likeable, although I did feel some measure of empathy for both of them occasionally. Darling and Lola are both deeply flawed human beings and are at times insufferable but personally I don’t mind reading a book where I don’t like the characters, sometimes I even prefer it as long as the book is good enough in other areas. Lola comes across pretty immediately as a nasty and bratty teenage girl. The author has done a very good job of getting the voice of a certain type of teenager right. Lola is alternately cruel, jealous, vulnerable and shallow. Her sections of the book are in a kind of diary form which I felt worked nicely and took us right inside the characters most honest thoughts and feelings. Darling, on the other hand, comes across at first as a much kinder and more genuine person than Lola but you also quickly get the feeling that all is not quite as it seems with her and as you read further it actually becomes harder to get the full picture of who she really is.
I really don’t want to give anything away about the latter part of the book so as not to spoil anything but I will say that the readers perceptions are twisted around several times in a feeling almost akin to whiplash. Even twists that I did have an inkling of before they took place still felt shocking when they happened. By the end of the book I just had no idea who to trust about anything. I don’t think this book will be for everyone but I thought it was a highly unconventional and compelling read which I will be thinking of for a while yet.
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A great thriller with a unique twist and an up-to-date premise. I was floored by the final plot twist and loved how we got to know (and hate!) the characters. Will be recommending this widely!
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"Well I never saw that coming" were the words I exclaimed aloud when finishing Rachel Edwards darkly compelling twisting psychological thriller that challenges the reader's perceived interpretation of the facts that are presented. Set at the time of the Brexit vote the story begins with an apparently random chance encounter between Darling (who is black and the mother to a six year old disabled boy) and Thomas (who is white and widowed with a teenage daughter). There is not just a racial but also a class difference between the two but following a whirlwind romance the couple are married a couple of months later much to the dismay and disgust of Thomas's 16 year old daughter Lola. 

The narrative of the clash between the two is told in the first person by Darling and also by Lola through her diary notes and we get to see the two sides of the story and also an insight into the characters of these determined protagonists. Although Lola's antipathy towards Darling may well have racial elements it is principally in my opinion based on class prejudice another pernicious cancer that prevails in modern Britain. But racial intolerance is clearly present in Darling's life both past and present and she is intimated by the actions and members of a right wing group who have gained encouragement due to the Brexit vote.

But along with race and class there are other issues being explored in this book and as the book progresses one becomes more aware that there is something not quite right about Darling, but what secrets is she hiding and what consequences will her actions have on others. Towards the end it became a total page turner and the ending is chilling. Due to the twist I will write no more for fear of giving to much away but will simply say that if you like Girl on the Train/Gone Girl type thrillers than you will not be disappointed by this.
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Wow ok so I stayed up till one am to finish this ,as u turn the pages u think u may know where it’s heading and a feeling ofworry for darling grows ,the sense of fear that groups filled with fear can give u 
Brexit does rear  it’s head and  foucuses on those that may have voted to leave for more ignorant reasons than maybe others who were frightened of big fat cats making a lot of money in Europe at the cost of the little people 
This foucuses on the venom though of others and the threat they feel of a diverse culture ,and I’m sorry that Rachel herself was faced with racism  after the vote 
Anyway this is soooooo much more than highlighting that 
I did get a sense of how needy darling was to care for others almost codependent  in the way she looked at people that needed her
 this is a twisty tale and both darling and Lola have their faults and it becomes more and more entwined 
I loved how darling cooked and described her food also I cd really smell that curry!
I won’t say anything more but I awarded this four stars not cause of the writing nessarily but it is original and that’s a rare find and topical 
I agree with others Lola was annoying and maybe a bit cliche but teenagers are to some degree and I did sort of warm to Lola 
Overall well worth a read and good novel thanks a lot for letting me read this netgalley and publishers
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Lola does not want a new stepmother. Darling does not want a new stepdaughter. Darling does want Lola's dad though. And he wants her. Darling and Lola will just have to get used to each other. Unless Lola can finsd a way to get rid of Darling.

Lola is still grieving for her mother. She's in therapy. Darling faces abuse after the Brexit referendum result where Thomas,(Lola's dad) come to the rescue. Darling has a son with a muscle related disabily. We get told in the prologue that one of the main characters will die, we just don't know which one. There is a lot of gritty issues going on in this book. Darling is definitely hiding something, and she's not being totally honest with Thomas about her past. The story is told from a dual narrative. Darling narrates most of the story, while Lola tells it from her journal entries that her therapist told her to write down.

I would like to thank NetGalley, HarperCollins UK, 4th Estate and the author Rachel Edwards for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is a page turner and I really enjoyed this. The setting behind the story is very apt for the times that we currently live in however that's only half the story behind Darling. Really well written with very detailed insights into the two main characters with just the right amount of teenage angst for Lola. Highly recommend!
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