Cover Image: Queenie

Queenie

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Member Reviews

Queenie is a 25 year old Black London woman who is struggling. Struggling with her relationship, struggling with her job and struggling to be accepted by those around her. She may have a strong name but she feels anything but at the moment. 

I have been looking forward to reading this book for a long time but it actually surpassed any of my expectations. The writing had me laughing, cringing and nodding along throughout. What Queenie goes through in her everyday life is all too real and unfortunately is the plight of many a current day 20something woman whatever their race. We may have moved in some ways since Bridget Jones times but women's insecurities are still stemmed by society's differing attitudes between male and females. Some reviewers have complained or focused on the sex within the book but the realness and authenticity would be lost without it. As if it is not enough for Queenie to have little self worth as a woman she also has to contend with the casual racism everyone thinks it acceptable from her boyfriend to her boss at work. I definitely took Queenie to my heart and I wanted desperately for her to realise that she was not the problem. The treatment she got at times was deplorable and none of the men involved came out of it in a shining light. 

I knew I would like this book but I didn't realise I would actually love it! Candice Carty Williams has created a character that will open your eyes to modern day life and despair!  Queenie is fiction royalty who can can be compared to noone as she is a class all of her own.
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An interesting novel that combines humour and some very serious topics at the same time. Not always easy to read, because Queenie is not always a likable character. But she is a very real one and I really enjoyed this. Read this in one evening, very fast paced and well written.
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Unfortunately, I have not been able to read and review this book.

After losing and replacing my broken Kindle and getting a new phone I was unable to download the title again for review as it was no longer available on Netgalley. 

I’m really sorry about this and hope that it won’t affect you allowing me to read and review your titles in the future.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. 
Natalie.
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Any book that opens at the bus stop in front of Lewisham Hospital in London—a place I have stood myself many times—is automatically going to get five stars from me. But this book is so much more than the opening at a bus stop I use. It made me laugh, absolutely, but it also made me consider more thoughtfully what life is like for a young black woman today. Although it is marketed as a black Bridget Jones, it’s so much more than that. It made me think about racism, mental health, sexism and family ties. It has won so many book awards for good reason: this is the type of book that stays with you for a long, long time.
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Thank you Netgalley for a review copy of this title. 
I didn't know what to expect when reading this attractive pink cover of a book but I know that I was surprised at how deep this book was. 
The main character has flaws but this is what makes the read so compelling. The issues addressed in this book include racism, workplace harassment, relationship issues and depression. All told in a warts n all way. 
I walked away from this book not with a happy ending but with a hopeful one.
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Content warning: flash backs of abuse and very descriptive panic attack episodes.

What a story this was. I am flawed. I feel represented in a lot of ways. I loved so much, if not all, of this book. Here are my thoughts, as I had them:

Queenie and Tom's inital meet was super cute. It was indeed very meet cute! I also loved how she can have a conversation or stream of thought in the present day and then it smoothly flashes back to that particular scene of her memory. It's done so well and reminds me of those dramas or sitcoms that use that method well, so you can see it happening rather than just being told. The particular flashback scenes with the early stages of Tom and Queenie just made everything hurt more!

Her friend Kyazike talking about her date had me cackling! I could just imagine it, her storytelling was fantastic. The friends generally felt revolved around her, but the individual personalities were so contrasting and rawr and real.

Queenie's grandma reminded me of mine! Coming in and washing her back like she's still a baby and sneaking her things whilst her grandad is out in the shed! That really made me chuckle. It felt so familiar!
And Queenie and cousin, Diana, texting in church.. that was a throw back!! My cousins and I used to text over DS Pictochat!

When things regarding break ups got deeper I started to actually feel sick as it brought back floods of emotions and memories.

My gosh, this made me FEEL THINGS.
Queenie was such a relatable character for me. Very flawed, childish in a lot of behaviours and kind of self absorbed AND self sabotaging (but this actually made me acknowledge my flaws when I was agreeing with her and felt heard and understood when characters taught her to see what she was doing and when she was validated in feeling things and that there is no "normal").
And the explanation about her name and family relationships, I felt so tight with emotion, especially regarding her mum and other deep rooted family problems. I was pretty much crying by the end.

I wished I'd highlighted most of the book because as I was getting into it, there was so much that I could relate to and by the time I realised I wanted to highlight, I felt like it was too late and only noted a few pieces in the end. Perhaps a rare re-read will help that.

Only real pointers to say is some of the words are missing and shows some minor formatting errors, with displayed fragments of text, but this is in relation to the unedited e-copy I have and I'm sure anything like that has been checked over since.
Oh and I did struggle in terms of pacing in regards to time. I couldn't accurately detect how much time had passed between one event and the next, unless it was specified obviously, but perhaps that signifies how Queenie was feeling as she felt her life spiralling out of control?

I love how ultimately this wasn't a happily ever after, saved by the Prince kind of ending (something that's also sadly mirrored and elaborated on for another character in the book, that broke my heart). And drove home the fact that yes, you can be a strong, independent black woman that don't need no man... but you can be sad, depressed, angry, growing and other things society suppresses from us or villanizes us for and you can be "any kind of black girl [or boy or however you identify]" you want to be, as Queenie's best friend, Kyazike, beautifully pointed out.

This was a fantastic book, of which I enjoyed pretty much every minute if it, immensely (finishing around 60% of it over a day).
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Queenie is such an amazing, powerful story! She is a strong woman but she's struggling with all that life has thrown at her. She's brave and determined but fragile and scared. I adored Queenie and her little gang of family and friends.
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Queenie is without a doubt not my usual type of book. I never read contemporary but it was recommended so i thought why not?

Queenie follows the day to day life of Queenie, a black girl from south London as she negotiates a recent break from her boyfriend. How she negotiates this seems to be sex and well, power to her. The guys she chooses are so awful. SO AWFUL. and even though Queenie grated on me she absoluately deserves better. She doesn't think so though and she spirals, affecting her relationships with her family and her friends (The Corgies). Queenie's grandparents and therapist are a light, providing Queenie with the stability she needs when she needs it, everyone else though isn't quite there for Queenie as much as she needs them to be, or in the right way. 

The book has some really incredible things to say about mental health issues, depression, anxiety, panic, the affect all of these things have on your physical health and wellbeing and also the ingrained racism that black people face daily from white people without them even thinking about it. And these things were where the book shines.Life is messy and Queenie is messy and sometimes that is okay.

  

I would have liked a bit more character development from her because the ending is left kind of open as to what happens and I as a lesbian, abstaning person, am perhaps the wrong audience for a book with as much graphic heterosexual sex in it as it does.
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Having read Queenie a little while ago, I am struggling to write my review. At the time of reading I struggled because what I wrote at the time did not do the book justice nor could I fully convey my feelings. That is still the case now. I was moved and at times overwhelmed by emotion while reading. 

Despite this I am glad to have read it. At the start, it feels very innocent. Very Bridget Jones, as Queenie has fun with her girlfriends, whom she calls the Corgis. And it feels very much like a feel good read. 

But then things begin to change when she breaks up with her longterm boyfriend Tom. Through flashbacks we learn that this was not a healthy relationship and that he does nothing to protect Queenie from his family's causal racism. But for Queenie, this break up hits her, hard. 

She responds by hooking up with random men, having unprotected sex, all while dealing with anxiety. 

The fact there are so many light moments throughout the book, makes those darker moments all the more dark and hard-hitting. Occasionally it is hard to read. But you want Queenie to survive, to win. Even when she is making those inappropriate choices, even when you are screaming at her to stay home. You are there with her, waiting for her. To make the right choice, to say she needs help. To start again. 

Queenie is only one part of the journey. But that part will end and soon that light at the end of the tunnel will get bigger. This is a book that I struggled to read, and one that I may not read again. But it is one that I would put on my classics list.
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This debut is original, heartbreaking, hilarious and smart.. Jamaican British woman Queenie is an appealingly real protagonist trying to find her place in a confusing world which keeps telling her she’s either "too much" or not enough (having been told I'm "too much" on many occasions, this resonated). 

This vital, uncomfortable and hilarious book blew me away and I can't wait to see what comes next for the author.
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Stuff I Liked
There’s a lot to chew on in this novel, and I enjoyed all the central themes of this novel immensely. I loved that this book explores mental health, and especially the cultural stigma around it. Queenie goes through some really difficult things with her mental health, and the way she goes about seeking help and how her family reacts to the fact that she wants to see a therapist was really well portrayed. Moreover, I think that the way her mental health problems were written was very nuanced and I really appreciated that.
I also really enjoyed how the topic of internalized racism was explored in here and how it affects young black women today. I also think that the discussions of childhood trauma and how they end up spilling into the way we handle other relationships in our lives was really well done.

Additionally, I enjoyed the way female friendships were portrayed. Queenie has three best friends, and has a very different dynamic with all three, and I think that was a really good choice – it allowed for a representation of female friendships that is varied and multifaceted and I really liked that. I also think Queenie’s relationship with her family and their dynamic was lovely and nuanced, and I wish we got even more of it.

And finally, I think Carty-Williams’ writing is really accessible and easy to read, while also managing to be evocative of Queenie as a character. It made the characters feel more real and authentic and I really appreciated that.

Stuff I Disliked
So I want to stress that there is a lot to love here. And moreover, I am just glad that a story about a young black woman in Britain has done so well. Despite all that, I did not enjoy this novel that much. For a number of different reasons.

Firstly, the first 2/3 of this novel are incredibly repetitive. It’s just a string of bad choices, and sex with awful men who treat Queenie awfully, and her completely disassociating from that. And the thing that bothered me most here is that it is clear that Queenie’s mental health is deteriorating throughout, but the narrative voice in here is so jolly and lighthearted, which is really jarring. This book is marketed as light-hearted and while the content is definitely not all that light-hearted, the narrative style and voice are, which just did not work for me. It’s very hard to read about borderline sexual abuse that is written in a voice that makes me feel like I am reading a rom-com. It just clashed and it did not work for me.
And like I said, Queenie deals with her issues by disassociating, which makes it really hard to get emotionally attached to the story. I think it’s definitely due to who I am as a reader – I needed more of Queenie’s inner thoughts and feelings to actually get invested in this story. But since she is so detached from the stuff that is happening to her (which is valid, a lot of people deal with issues like that), it made her more annoying than relatable in my opinion.

The last third of the novel is way better in my opinion, but I still needed more of Queenie’s inner life, even in this part. I also did not like how abrupt the shift in tone was, and how stuff that was sort of the integral root of Queenie’s problems was revealed in this part and not earlier. This does add perspective to the novel and Queenie as a character, and I would have much preferred if it was mentioned earlier and given the time and nuance it needed. I just wish that these two obvious parts were interwoven together more naturally instead of just dumping this stuff in the last 30 percent of the novel.
I also think that this book got really preachy and on the nose at times, when it really did not need to do that. I much prefer when the “messages” of the novel are made obvious through the narrative, instead of having the character actually say them out loud in a statement bordering a monologue. I don’t like being spoon-fed stuff, but more importantly, this book and this story did not need that, it could have spoken for itself and I think that would have made it a lot stronger.

To Sum Up
While there’s a lot to love here, I just did not like the execution of this novel. I would still recommend checking it out if it sounds like your kind of thing, and if the stuff that I mentioned that bothers me doesn’t bother you, but the way it was handled just was not for me.
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Absolutely loved it, have been recommending it to everyone I know. Thought it was such an insightful take on race, millennials, life in London, complex dating situations you end up in in your twenties = thanks!
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Queenie feels to me like it has solidly entered the modern women's fiction canon. Queenie herself is a great heroine – very flawed, but really warm and relatable, even when she's pushing people away – and the life she leads is oh-too-realistic. Candice Carty-Williams has done a great job of capturing how it feels to be a twenty-something struggling their way through family, work and dating, all bundled up with some very eye-opening themes about race and assault. I look forward to what she writes next.
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Funny, witty, and from a fresh perspective. This was an easy, breeze, lovely read and well worth picking up. I'm sure there are big things in Candice Carty-Williams' future!
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An absolute triumph. #Queenie totally blew me away. It's fresh, intelligent, raw. Magnificent in every way.
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Candice Carty-Williams is good on writing about intergenerational attitudes toward mental health, and the pressure of working 'twice as hard to get half as much'. However, while protagonist Queenie herself is a necessary platform for undoubtedly important discussions, her character lacks consistency and dimensionality. Fetishizing black women and self-detructiveness appear to be the main themes of this novel, and there comes a point where the book is exhausting—the sexcapades have become repetitive and we’ve written Queenie off as an unredeemable mess.

The book's redemptive ending feels at best rushed, at worst simply hard to believe. In raising so many societal injustices, from domestic violence to consent, the Black Lives Matter movement and London living costs, there’s no time for an in-depth investigation of any one issue. For a book trying to provide vital insights into experiences that are still, in 2019, under-represented, Queenie is lacking in definition of the titular character.
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Queenie should be a pretty ordinary book.

It features a pretty ordinary girl, living a pretty ordinary life, with an ordinary circle of friends. Her challenges will be starkly familiar to many of us; from the feet-in-stirrups gynaecological examination opening, to the political frustrations, to the anxiety attacks. Many, too, will recognise the everyday realities of being a black British woman living an everyday London life. But familiar in life, is not the same as familiar in print. I can only imagine it might be a bittersweet shock the first time you see life reflected plainly in mainstream art. The joy of recognition undercut by the knowledge that that joy has been previously absent.

So many simple, frank realities are presented in Queenie. Much press coverage has been given to its portrayal of race. Blackness on the page in all its nuance and everyday detail, as it doesn’t feel like we’ve seen on the bestseller’s list before. There are smudges of dark foundation on cream cushions, and entitled white clubbers touching Queenie’s hair on a night out like she’s an “animal in a petting zoo.” There’s the sexual objectification, not just of her female body, but of the colour of the skin encasing in, complete with insulting and racist confectionary comparisons.

But Candice Carty-Williams isn’t just writing about race, she’s writing about a person; Queenie. So it also sings with refreshing truth about modern Britishness, about feminism, about anxiety and mental health breakdowns. It’s the most realistic book I’ve read about living in South London, about working in the media, about defiantly carrying a few suitcase-loads of baggage into any relationship. When it comes to representation, it’s not just people of colour Candice Carty-Williams is speaking out for. There is so much raw emotional honesty in this book, that I found I’d been crying in recognition through a whole chapter without even really noticing, and I’m a middle-aged white woman.

It’s no surprise the book has found a wide readership. From the outset, you meet a damaged woman navigating modern coupledom, and the world, who needs a person on her side, no questions. The relationship breakdown that sets her on a destructive path truly kicks off when the otherwise good guy, Tom, refuses to stand up for her against his family’s casual racism, uttering: “I can’t protect you when it’s my family you think you need protecting from.” In this instance, the racism was the bitter core of the argument, yes, but the need for someone to have your corner is universal.

For all the book’s sensitivity, though, the bittersweet truth is there shouldn’t be anything too massively groundbreaking here. Queenie itself doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be a work of literary genius. If the publishing world were as it should be, then would this book stand out? Yes, it’s light and clear and clever. Its characters are nuanced, and the relationship drama is insightful. But still…

Where critics and the reading public are still falling over themselves in praise of Sally Rooney’s Normal People (and rightly, it’s another great book) Queenie serves to nudge the definition sideways. To ask the question of those who so delight in celebrating the literary representation of ‘normal’ — have you even looked around to see what ‘normal’ really is? Or, to go one stage further, as Queenie’s therapist in the book does:
“You used a term that I don’t really like.”
So, Queenie’s ordinaryness is exactly what is necessary. It is a classic ‘everywoman’ tale to highlight the depressing lack of them.

I understand that was exactly what inspired Candice Carty-Williams to write in the first place, so job done. Now she’s done that, I’m intrigued to see what she writes next, as I’m sure it’ll be brilliant. In the meantime, she’s written exactly the shake up the industry needs, with exactly the character to inspire others to follow her. For sure, Queenie will be leading an army of literary lookalikes onto the shelves soon, and it will be wonderful. I just hope they’re all as thoughtful and genuine as she is.
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Quite simply brilliant. Some real laugh out loud moments but also heart-wrenching ones too. There was lots in here that I identified with, hell, remember experiencing: the loss of love, the struggle with mental health, the inability to believe I was worthy of love, and the bouncing back! However, the struggle that Queenie faces as a black woman is not one that I, as a white woman, will ever know. So I, we, need to listen to and read about those struggles. It was a pleasure to read, I couldn't put it down, and I would've continued following Queenie just doing her best to navigate her way through this life.
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I don’t think this book was for me. I felt like all of the characters acted about half their age and made very immature choices. I did however find this book very funny and commend the author for inclusion and discussion of mental illness.
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Queenie was heartbreaking, raw and funny all in equal measures.

Queenie Jenkins, a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddles two cultures and slots neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper and after a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places, including several men who do nothing to help her self-worth.

As Queenie lurches from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself searching for the meaning of life.

I loved all of the characters in this novel and the writing style, which was very easy to lose myself in. It was great that the author, Candice Carty-Williams, addressed issues of mental health, sexual harassment and abuse and interracial dating, among others, which made this story really stand out for me. 

I can't wait for the next offering by Candice Carty-Williams!

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from Orion Publishing/ Trapeze via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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