Cover Image: Darling

Darling

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this book and was particularly impressed with the two distinct voices both of which had an authentic feel.  The ending wasn’t what I expected but also wasn’t an OMG moment either.  I felt there were a few inconsistencies which is why this isn’t a 5 star book for me.  The major one was the Jamaican food which played a huge part of the story but very early on in the book Darling says she had an English upbringing in Basingstoke and had to purchase on line a Caribbean cookbook to make her first meal for Thomas.  The other glaring one is that ALL trains stop at Harrow on the Hill. Met line and Chiltern alike. I know this is a minor detail but for someone like me who has been commuting through that station for over 50 years it was a poor choice of location and spoilt the drama for me.
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I couldn't wait to start reading this book. The premise sounded fantastic, definitely the sort of thing I could get my teeth in to. This book deals with important issues in post Brexit Britain and coupled with the disharmony between Darling and Lola I thought it would be a fantastic read.  Unfortunately I just couldn't get to grips with this style of writing. I found it very difficult to follow and I spent more time than I would have liked trying to find out who was speaking or where I was. I may give this another go at a later date, but ultimately I found it very hard to get through.
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Sixteen-year-old Lola thinks she has enough worries already, and then she meets her dad’s new black girlfriend Darling. When Darling and Thomas marry, Darling is exquisitely patient, realising that any confrontation with Lola will turn into a battle she cannot win, but to no avail. Lola schemes against her new step-mother and continues to be jealous and nasty. 
Darling, the debut novel from Rachel Edwards is a twisty tale. Written in great descriptive prose and alternating mostly between the voices of Darling and Lola, this book is difficult to put down.
Save for the odd clues scattered here and there, (what did she just say?) there is little hint of how this impasse, Darling or Lola, will be resolved.
Darling is an interesting and enjoyable read.

With thanks to Netgalley UK and HarperCollins UK 4th Estate
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Great story, great plot, good strong characters (you could actually get into their minds) leaving you wondering what was going to happen next and wondering how it was all going to end.. A lot of gritty issues being dealt with in this book too. On the downside, I found reading this book more of a task rather than something that I could enjoy due to the author's style of writing. The reason for this was the flipping between the characters too frequently at the beginning and not headlining who the characters were so you had to read a few lines before you knew if it was Darling or Lola being referred to (until towards the end of the book)..
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Darling is a thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. A welcome change for me, since I am generally very good at predicting plot twists or who the killer is. 

This is a very clever read, the characters are well written and the story packs a few good punches
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Darling is a fantastically complex thriller that reads more like a part-Nabokov, part-gossip-girl-post novel than a thriller. I love unreliable narrators and both in this book are brilliant at convincing the reader that they are telling the truth, even when all the signs point otherwise.

The reality of post-Brexit Britain rings very true, but there is so much more to this story.
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Darling tells the story of what happens when Darling, a black single mother to young Stevie, a little boy with duchenne muscular dystrophy, meets and marries Thomas, a white widower and father to troubled teen Lola. The narrative switches between Darling’s viewpoint and Lola, allowing you to see the situation from each perspective. Darling’s determination to bond with Lola and earn her trust contrasts with Lola’s manipulative attempts to undermine her new stepmother. 

As the speed picks up, however, the reader begins to realise that neither narrator is telling the whole story, and with each woman fighting for her place within the family, it makes for a gripping and page turning read. Exploring the topics of race in post-Brexit Britain, family, trust and truth, Darling is compelling and fast paced. 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher.
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Darling is billed as a “reading group thriller”, which sounded a bit strange. (What *is* a reading group thriller?  If I don’t have a reading group, am I still allowed to read it?) I think it just means there’s a lot of food for discussion in this book, which I suppose is true. I can certainly imagine a few debates being sparked.

It’s also dubbed a “Brexit thriller”, which sounded kind of appealing and also kind of not, because if I never had to hear the word Brexit again I would be more than happy (I know, not gonna happen), but still... Brexit thriller, intriguing concept.

Anyway... Darling (who is black) and Thomas (who is white) meet by chance on the day of the Brexit result and fall in love - and marry - very quickly. There’s a major fly in the ointment, though, in the shape of Thomas’s sixteen year old daughter Lola, who doesn’t really want a new stepmother, particularly not a black one. Lola’s at pains to tell us she’s not racist (though she really kind of is - but that’s only one of many ways in which Lola is dangerously screwed up). 

Lola needs to take back control. Lola needs rid of Darling.

But Darling is a nurse, a caregiver - single parent to a disabled son, the adorable Stevie - and she’s sure she can win Lola over with enough lovingly prepared meals and patience.

Then again, Darling has her secrets, too.

Narrated alternately by Darling and through Lola’s notebooks, the voices of both characters are compelling and the tension builds throughout.

I’m not sure about “Brexit thriller”, but the book certainly does evoke the landscape of post-referendum Britain and its newly emboldened racists - here, a toxic far-right group of idiots calling itself Bright New Britain (the BNP, basically, with a dollop of UKIP and the EDL thrown in for bad measure), with whom Lola gets somewhat embroiled. All of this is sadly only too believable.

Darling is a superbly crafted story which immediately drew me in, and never felt predictable - whenever I thought I knew where the plot was going, I was invariably wrong, and the end is surprising. Rachel Edwards deftly led me down several wrong turns in the process.

A very, very impressive debut which I would highly recommend.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review.
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I'm afraid I found Darling quite difficult to get into. I didn't enjoy the style of writing of either character and this made the book too much like hard work rather than something I could relax into and want to spend time with. I didn't warm to either of the characters and while I think Darling's story was an important one, it just wasn't one for me personally.
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Only three stars. That is onee and a half for each book.
I was reading away enjoying Darling and Lola when I started to get confused. I lost the place of Lola's dad and Darling's terminally ill son.
Everything seemed darker. I put it own to tiredness and put it down to start again the next day.
I had to start again from the beginning and I am still not altogether sure when the book turned.
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WOW. What a rollercoaster this book was! I don’t read a lot of thrillers as I find a lot of them to be really predictable (I found THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN to be a good exercise in character creation, but a poor mystery/thriller), but DARLING was anything but. I literally had no idea what was coming, but the plot twists were so well done that I had to close the book in shock at certain points.

What begins as a family drama set against the backdrop of Brexit Britain evolves into something dark and twisted, slowly building up the pace until it reaches its shocking conclusion. I’ve seen that this novel has been tapped for TV and I can see why – this would work very well as a dark drama or miniseries.

The book is largely narrated by the titular character of Darling, with diary entries from Lola letting us know exactly what’s happening in the stepdaughter’s mind – but even though we can see right into the characters’ heads, don’t fool yourself into thinking you know them. Even if you’re convinced you know everything that’s going on, you don’t. Trust me. And Edwards has expertly balanced the novel, giving you just the right amount of hints that you won’t work out the twist by yourself, and then the reveals come and it’s suddenly so obvious. I’ve found a lot of authors struggle to give the right amount of clues – either they give too many and the twist is predictable, or they don’t give enough and it feels like they pulled the reveal out of nowhere and it feels like cheating. DARLING doesn’t do that – it’s one of those rare thrillers that both shocks you and leaves you satisfied.

Every character is layered and complex, and the novel carefully handles the topic of racism and prejudice (especially in a post-Brexit-referendum Britain), but the family remain at the forefront of the story. It paints a brutally honest picture of racism in the UK, showing the growing popularity of nationalistic right-wing groups (Bright New Britain in the novel being an obvious stand-in for parties such as UKIP and the BNP) and the emboldening of formerly private racists (something we are also seeing in the USA under the Trump presidency). The novel feels painfully realistic in this regard, and feels particularly necessary as the UK lurches towards an uncertain future.
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