Queenie

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Member Reviews

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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Set to be an absolute smash hit, Queenie is sharp and witty and everything I wanted it to be going in. Had heard amazing things and was not disappointed!
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I read this on the beach on holiday and sped right through it! A really relevant and honest but entertaining debut novel from Candice. An insight into the Caribbean culture in the UK, particularly from a young woman's perspective and all that entails.
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I loved Queenie. I couldn't put my finger on what was so compelling about Queenie herself but I found myself returning to the book constantly when I should have been doing other things. It made me laugh out loud, and cringe, and think more carefully about a whole host of issues. I've recommended it to a bunch of people.
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Great book. Throughly enjoyed it. A must read and a great addition to any book collection 
Thank you to both NetGalley and Orion for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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I fell in love with this book, and with Queenie. I've seen a lot of people describing her as a 'black Bridget Jones' which I feel misrepresents the book hugely, as it is so much darker than that. The women's fiction title it most reminded me of in fact was Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes - and it has that same perfect combination of sad and funny as that book. I have recommended it to many people (in fact, my book club is reading it this month) and I will continue to do so.
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Queenie is a book that everyone should read. Discussing racism around modern day dating, this is a book that does not shy away from any topic.
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This is a really difficult review for me to write, because this book was absolutely BRILLIANT. 

I really connected with Queenie. I am also a young woman who works in a creative industry, but who still doesn't quite know what she wants. I have also made mistakes with men and allowed them to use me when I was feeling the most insecure in myself. I am also messy, and sometimes not the best of friends. I love that I could connect with her so much - I imagine that young black women would feel this even more. 

I think that this book could really open a discussion in families, particularly black families, about the importance of taking care of your mental health. And if that means taking medication or going to therapy, that's okay. There's a real lack of representation of black characters with mental health issues who are able to get help, and I hope that Queenie will inspire people to do the same. 

I do feel like some parts of the book were a little bit slow. Queenie sometimes just wandered about aimlessly, without the plot really driving her forwards. However, I totally get that this was part of the point of the book - Queenie does feel lost, and doesn't really know what she wants out of life. She is a hot mess, and I kind-of love her for it. 

Finally - why the hell was this book compared to Bridget Jones? Sure, it's about a young woman living in London. But Queenie digs a lot deeper than that. 

Trigger warnings: sexual assault, cheating, panic attacks, racism (challenged)
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Queenie is 26 years old, lives in London and is of Jamaican decent. But even if you are none of these things, I think everyone can relate to Queenie in some way. 

The book is very funny, but also very dark at times. Detailing her life after splitting from a long-term boyfriend, Queenie has trouble coping with single life. While some of her encounters are hilarious, she is dealing with mental health issues and a lack of self-worth that leads to some very dark and dangerous ones. I think the book deals with the issues raised very well, and Queenie has friends and family around her to point out when things are not okay. 

We also find out more about Queenie’s previous relationship which she is still mourning with flashbacks, as Queenie gradually comes to terms with the fact it may also not have been as perfect and happy as she thought at the time. 

I thought this book was great, and did a wonderful job of dealing with the numerous issues raised throughout, including racism, sexism, fat shaming and sexual assault.
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#gifted 5* read: "Queenie, you’ve got two arms and two legs that work. Nuttin’ wrong wid’ you.”

Queenie and Tom are on a 'break,' and she's in denial. After a string of one-night stands with a few heinous men, repeated trips to the STD clinic, and minimal support from her 'corgi' support network and dysfunctional family, Queenie has hit rock bottom. She's moved into a mouldy house share, her Black Lives Matter articles aren't getting past her editor, and her mental health is suffering. This is a relatable and fresh debut about the realities of London-life. Queenie's story is equal parts entertaining and exasperating, revealing an experience of London full to bursting with neighborhood gentrification, racial micro-aggressions, family and friendship drama, and everyday sexism.

This is a powerful, hilarious, and heart-breaking novel that explores negative cultural attitudes to mental health. This book struck home for me in many ways, especially the discussions around mental health, and the dismissive attitudes of loved ones. Ultimately, though, Carty-Williams deftly demonstrates that even with all the love and support in the world, the road to recovery is a choice you have to make, and keep making, for yourself.

“We aren’t here for an easy ride. People are going to try and put you in a mould, they’re going to tell you who you should be and how you should act. You’re going to have to work hard to carve out your own identity, but you can do it.”
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Lots of people whose opinions I respect and values (and who my reading taste usually matches up to) have really liked this.  I really didn't.  I really wanted to, and I can see that it's well written and there are interesting themes being explored, but I found Queenie herself hugely irritating - so many bad choices. 

Chalk it up in the not for me column and I know I'm in the minority here.
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Queenie is a wonderful character in a great novel.  A young black woman from South London, negotiating  her love, sex , work and home life,  while finding her own self worth in a world that refuses to acknowledge its racism. Queenie’s mental health suffers as she is treated badly by men and at work. It’s funny, sometimes dark, ultimately life affirming and  very political. It touches on the changing face of London, the Jamaican businesses of Queenie’s childhood priced out of Brixton, the value (but also the stigma within her family) of therapy. These are serious themes dealt with in an often very funny and easy to read novel with friendship at its heart. Queenie, the book and the character, deserves to go far. Highly recommended.
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I wanted to really like this book, it being billed as a bit  ‘Bridget Jones’, unfortunately for me I felt this book didn’t really know what it wanted to be, it was neither comic or social comment. 
When we first meet Queenie yes she is a little bit like ‘Bridget’ but as the story progresses it becomes obvious that she is a deeply troubled character. The story moves from starting to be comic to touching on elements of racism but not in any great depth. The characters glance over the racist elements as if to say ‘ well that’s just life’. I would have liked to have discovered more about how the character really felt about the comments and there was no real education back to those that had spouted it, which left me disappointed.  
On occasions I found some of the speech/slang difficult to work out and felt that sometimes the author forgot that she had given certain characters an accent as they seemed to drop in and out of it.
On the plus side it was great to read a book that has mainly black characters in the central roles  and as the book concludes Queeine emerges from all her troubles a more rounded person.
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