The Other Half of Augusta Hope

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Member Reviews

The story of Augusta Hope is inspiring and thought provoking. She is determined to live life to the max. Her Twin Julia is the perfect child, but Augusta certainly isn’t. The section of the book which deals with the troubles in Burundi was for me very emotional. This was a real page turner and I read it while on holiday.
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This is a book about relationships, love and loss. Twins Augusta and Julia live with their strait laced parents. Augusta to is academic loving words while Julia is gentler and more obedient. The other art of the story concerns Parfait who lives in Burundi with his parents and siblings. His is a story of violent loss and an heroic journey across Africa to Europe. 
This should have been a riveting book; it sounded as though it had everything but I really struggled with it.
The beginning was good and the end wad satisfying but the middle was drawn out. August was too pedantic and her family too intractable.
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Joanna Glens debut novel is the story of twins Julia and Augusta Hope who live in the quiet suburbs of Henley Green. 

The twins are poles apart Julia being quiet and the model daughter and Augusta being independent, and unwilling to conform to society’s norms. Augusta loves to read her dictionary and decides that Burundi is her favourite country after finding it in her atlas. 

The story is written from two main characters narratives,; Augusta and Parfait who is living in war torn Burundi He dreams of escaping his home country to start a better life with his siblings. 

The descriptions of the twins lives  from childhood to adolescence is brilliant  and the expectations of fitting in to family and society norms were explored beautifully. 

Parfait’s life in Burundi brought another dimension to the book. Growing up in poverty and war is unimaginable but his strong character and caring nature shines through.

The two characters are bound together by a shared experience of personal grief and loss, and their mutual love of Spain. When they meet in the novel it feels like they are both destined to find each other.

This novel explores many serious issues not normally addressed in everyday reading. I really enjoyed how it pulled at my heartstrings and made me think of the plight of people living in other countries who don’t enjoy the freedom I do in their everyday life. I also loved how not conforming to society’s expectations and being different was celebrated. 

Overall I enjoyed  this unique book the only downside for me was that it was a little slow paced. Maybe it’s because I’m an impatient reader at times and others may not agree with me. 

Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for my chance to read this well written debut novel.
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This is a very unusual novel, about twins Augusta and Julia, who live a relatively normal life, if somewhat small-town minded. When Augusta is a girl she finds a globe in the local library, and after spinning it several time, picks out Burundi, to find out more about the place. She finds it is in Africa, is somewhat impoverished, and that there is civil war raging between racial groups there.
In alternate chapters the story moves to Parfait, a poor boy in Burundi, who is desperate to escape his country's troubles - and decides he needs to go to Spain. His sisters have vanished after being raped by soldiers, his father has been killed and his mother has also disappeared. He has one brother who is so traumatised he has stopped  speaking.
Meanwhile in the UK, Julia has trained to be a nursery teacher, whilst Augusta is not sure what she wants to do, and takes several temporary jobs, until she has enough money to go to Spain on  holiday.
Augusta, and Parfait meet up, and what follows is  very surprising, very well-written and by the end of the book you feel you really know the characters very well.
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I really enjoyed reading this, although strangely I didn’t warm to Augusta that much. The historical backdrop underpinning the whole novel was interesting, moving and well researched (though once copied directly from a simple google search- I tried it myself!)

The only thing that worried me was the ending which was at once a perfect way to end and terrible. Without spoiling it, Diego was a character who was used as a means from a to b instead of a fully developed character in himself.

I did really love the character of Parfait and he added so much to this story, I was at a bit of a loss when this ended!
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Quite a literary book, this story follows Augusta and Parfait's lives along a number of years, eventually intertwining. I actually wasn’t very keen on Augusta but the quality of the story and the writing kept me reading, it’s a very good book & not one I’d call an easy read - it covers the agonies of war and refugees, along with the pain that secrets can cause.

I’ll definitely be recommending this one to readers in store, and I look forward to seeing what’s next from the author,

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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An emotional life-affirming book that tackles some difficult subjects sensitively and made me feel all emotions
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The sad and sometimes happy story of the quest to find the kind of life you want. Augusta is very bright and intelligent in comparison to her twin who is pretty, uncomplicated and loved by all. Although on the surface Augusta should be happy with her life she is seeking a completely different kind of existence. Slow start but stick with it as it grows in momentum.
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Julia and Augusta Hope are twins born either side of midnight. Julia is born in the final minutes of the 31st July whilst Augusta is born as the 1st of August begins. They are very different, not only in their colouring but in their personalities. Augusta is like a sponge, she devours books, questions everything, is inquisitive and intelligent and to some, is an oddity with her personality quirks and strange ways of looking at things. Julia is a home-bird and a peacemaker, almost smoothing the way for Augusta in life. Their sisterhood and friendship is the centre of Augusta’s life, but she wants more than the small town where they are being brought up whilst Julia wants to remain and build her life there.

We follow these sisters as they grow up and watch as their differences become more pronounced. Augusta is a curious child whose incessant questions and assertions annoy rather than endear. She makes friends with the severely disabled boy next door much to the horror of her parents and she cannot understand at all why kindness is a bad thing. Joanna Glen’s characterisation is stunning. Augusta and Julia are wonderfully compelling characters, but it is Augusta who is our protagonist and so it is she who we fall in love with. We understand her curiosity and feel the ties that bind her to Julia and realise that she may need to loosen them in order to create freedom for herself.

Interspersed with the tale of the Hope twins we have a secondary story of a young man names Parfait who lives in Burundi. His country is war torn and his family is decimated forcing him to flee and find a better life elsewhere. It took me a little while to connect with Parfait’s story, it seemed incongruous but slowly, slowly Joanna Glen unveils a beautiful and compelling tale of a boy who is forced to become a man and find a new home.

The tales of Parfait and Augusta run parallel creating a clever narrative which caused me to question and asses what I was reading. What starts off as a book about a socially awkward child/young woman suddenly becomes something deeper and far more meaningful. Addressing a myriad of themes such as the refugee crisis, family and grief this book is a powerful and emotional read. The writing and plotting is so good that I have to admit that I was taken by surprise by some of the events and the emotions which they elicited. It did lose pace a little for me in the middle but, the powerful and lyrical writing kept me reading.

Chock full of brilliant observations and clever characterisation this is a book to really get your teeth into. It is a poetic and heartbreaking read which I can’t quite believe is a debut novel as it has such strength and power. An accomplished book about family, home and finding your place in the world, The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen is a gem of a book.
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The Other Half of Augusta Hope Joanna Glen
I finished reading this in the early hours of this morning having been totally gripped since 20% in. The story started slowly introducing the parallel stories of Augusta and her family, including her twin sister and polar opposite, Julia - alternating with the story of Parfait, a boy living with his family in horrendous conditions in Burundi. 
It took me a while to figure how the stories would play, the dynamics and the ultimate connection drawing the stories together. 
There are so many words that spring to mind in describing this book: family, belonging, pain, separation, searching, trauma, empathy, strength, forgiveness, destiny.....
As this story develops you become absorbed by the unusual characters and their search for their future. It unfolds beautifully although don’t be fooled, it is difficult to read in places and emotional! Powerful messages and real strength of character and understanding of being different. 
I don’t want to give the story away but would thoroughly recommend reading this unusual and powerful story!
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An extraordinary, beautifully written book which I loved. A story about sisters, family, being different, grief and finding your place in the world. Such an emotional, thought provoking book - haunting, funny, quirky, emotional, tragic, sad but also with happy moments, uplifting and full of hope. 

I was intrigued and engaged right from the start and could not put this book down, I was engrossed as I progressed through the book. I was rooting for the main characters and really hoped for a happy ending for them. 

Absolutely beautiful, I can't recommend this book highly enough, I really loved it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this book - I was hooked from the beginning by Augusta’s quirky character. I enjoyed the parallel stories of Augusta and Parfait - getting to know them gently until their paths cross and their pasts come to the fore. 

I had been aware of Burundi but not in any real sense did I know anything about the plight of its people. Parfait is determined to escape and begin a new life - an urge shared by Augusta who is escaping a family tragedy.

Both inevitably find hope and a solace in each other.

A lovely read - heartfelt, poignant and uplifting.
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Augusta and Julia are twins, born either side or midnight - one in July, one in August. Julia is loving, happy and biddable, her parents’ perfect daughter; Augusta, on the other hand, never feels she fits into the suburban world of Willow Crescent, Hedley Green.

The young Augusta is entranced by words and picks Burundi from the atlas as the country with the most beautiful name, “like the sea lapping against my mind”.

Further enquiry, though, soon reveals that life in strife-torn Burundi is far removed from the sheltered world she knows.

Far away in Africa, a boy called Parfait knows this at first hand. Parfait’s sections of the story are short but far from sweet; his world is one where terrible things happen on a daily basis. Inspired by a priest named Victor, the sensitive and talented Parfait dreams of a safer life in Spain.

The lives of Augusta and Parfait as they grow - the worlds they live in - could not be further apart and yet run strangely parallel... even converging at times.

And meanwhile Julia - Augusta’s other other half - is undergoing her own largely unexpressed traumas. 

I loved this book and its characters - powerful, hard-hitting, timely in many ways, and very moving at times. The writing style is distinctive, with short sharp sentences at times conveying a sense of the impossibility of fully expressing some events and emotions. 

The first line is arresting - “My parents didn’t seem like the sort of people who would end up killing someone.” It’s a long time before we understand what this means, and when we do, it’s devastating. Stanley and Jilly Hope - ordinary people, not monsters - the sort who believe charity begins at home (as long as it doesn’t get too close... it’s fine to fundraise for children with learning disabilities like neighbour Graham Cook, but don’t try to make friends with him, Augusta) and that it’s safest never ever to get mixed up in things that don’t concern you. There is more depth to this portrayal than you might think, though. Is there, indeed, hope?
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Great book. Fab storyline and great characters. This book really surprised me and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I will defo be checking out more books by the author. This was such a heart warming story.
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Thanks to NetGalley and to HarperCollins UK/The Borough Press for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
This is an achingly beautiful book, one of those books that you read and don’t want to finish because… well, because you know you won’t find many, if any, quite like it. And certain experiences are there to be savoured. 
The story starts with Augusta, one of a set of twins (her sister, Julia, was born on the 31st of July, therefore her name, and she was the second born, already on the 1st of August…) living in Britain, whose parents bought the first house in their neighbourhood, and who lead extremely conventional lives (their choice of names for their daughters seems to be the most adventurous thing they’ve ever done). Augusta —who narrates the story in the first person— and Julia are very close, although they are polar opposites (they look different, their attitudes to life are different, and other than their mutual affection, and their interest in Diego, a Spanish boy who moves to the same street, they seem to have little in common). Augusta loves words, reading the dictionary offers her comfort, her favourite poem is one about a pedlar [‘The Pedlar’s Caravan’ by William Brighty Rands], she sees herself travelling the world in a colourful caravan, when given the choice, she takes up Spanish at school —I love her teacher, Mr Sánchez— and starts chasing “el duende” (a concept difficult to translate, but something aficionados to flamenco music, singing, and dancing refer to when the experience of a performance reaches beyond aesthetic pleasure and enjoyment and transcends that, as if speaking directly to the soul), and decides to study far away from home, at Durham University. Her sister, by contrast, wants to make their parents happy, loves to live in their small town, become a nursery teacher, and marries her first boyfriend (the aforementioned Diego). 
Augusta picks a country, seemingly randomly, just because she likes the sound of it, Burundi, keeps track of the events there, and she feels compelled to keep a big folder of notes on any interesting news item she comes across about Burundi (because, let’s face it, Burundi does not often make the news). Something happens during a holiday in Spain when they are teenagers, which Augusta is no party to, and the whole family, especially her sister, seem changed by the experience, but they don’t tell her anything, and that makes her feel even more of an outsider. 
At the beginning of the book, I assumed that the other half of Augusta was her sister, but I was wrong (although yes, there is some of that as well). Some parts of the novel, alternating with those narrated by Augusta, are narrated by Parfait, a boy, slightly older than Augusta, from Burundi. He has six siblings, and his life couldn’t be more different to Augusta’s, although readers will pick up similarities as well (the love for words and learning, the eagerness to travel and move away, although here easier to justify due to the circumstances his family and the whole country are going through). He also meets a wonderful Spanish character, a priest, Victor, who inspires him. As we read, we start to make connections and the magic of the book envelops us. But, don’t be mistaken. The book is magical, lyrical, beautiful, full of poetry (Augusta loves Federico García Lorca’s poems and his plays, and there are many references and points of contacts with Yerma, La casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba), and Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), and there are also references to other poems, cante jondo songs, music, dance, and paintings), but terrible things happen as well to the characters, and although not described in detail (they happen “off-the-page”), they are hard and heart-wrenching. Some we are fully aware of at the time, some we only get to know in their entirety much later on. Like much of Lorca’s work, this is a book about death, grief, loss, and about topics as current as war-torn countries, migrants and refugees, race relations, Brexit, and families. But, there are wonderful and funny moments too, many touching ones (I did cry more than once reading this novel), and, well, the main character’s surname, Hope, is pretty becoming to the story as a whole.
Augusta is a fabulous character, and so are all her family, and Parfait and his, and also the friends they both meet in Spain. (Oh, and Graham Cook and his family. They are priceless). The two narrators are, in some ways, mirror images of each other, or even better, like the positive and the negative of the same image, in old-style photography. None of the characters are perfect, (well, Parfait fits his name well), but all, even the secondary ones, are complex enough, with their good and their bad things (of course, we see them through the narrators’ eyes, but the two narrators are not trying to deceive us here, and this is not a story of unreliable narrators, at least not intentionally so. They might be mistaken in their judgements or impressions, but they never try to lead the reader down the garden path). The places, especially La Higuera, the house in Andalucia and the town around it, become characters in their own right, and the writing is fluid, and gorgeous. The ending is also pretty wonderful, in case you were wondering. 
I highlighted so much of the book that it was almost impossible to choose something to give you an idea of what the writing is like, but I’ve tried. In the first one, Augusta shares an anecdote that beautifully illustrates the different approaches to life of the two sisters.
We were given tricycles, mine, yellow, and Julia’s, pink. Julia drew chalk lines on the drive and spent the day reversing into parking spaces. I rode out of the drive, turned left, curved around to number 13, at the top of the crescent, twelve o’clock, crossed the road precariously to the roundabout and drove my trike into the fishpond singing ‘We All Live in a Yellow Submarine’.
There are places —aren’t there? Places which are so full of feeling you hardly dare return to them.
‘Do you think our brains will gradually evolve to hold less and less information? And soon we’ll be Neanderthals again but with iPhones?’
‘I suppose that could be a good definition of love,’ I said. ‘Crying for another person —like their pain is yours.’
In sum, if you love quirky and wonderful characters, you want to read about Spain, Burundi, and poetry, you enjoy beautiful writing, and you don’t mind having a good cry, this is the book for you. Personally, I can’t recommend it enough. And I look forward to more novels by this author.
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This is a difficult book to categorise. Augusta is an interesting character, which makes it seem like it's a book written about/from an autistic perspective, but it's not. It's sort of a predestined romance with a side order of family dynamic and some truly heart breaking details.

Overall I really enjoyed this because it's so different to anything out there. And have hankies at the ready for the end!

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC without obligation.
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The Other Half of Augusta Hope is her twin Julia - I loved this book and read it in 2 days - it's a quirky dual narrative story about a girl called Augusta who loves to read the dictionary and appears slighty odd to outsiders . At an early age she becomes obsessed with the country Burundi. The second narrative is from Parfait who lives in Burundi. They tell their stories in alternate chapters . 
This is a story about Home and what it means to both Augusta and Parfait - They both have tragedys in their lives and are both looking for somewhere to belong. 
I shed a few tears along the way reading this but loved it .
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this lovely book
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Needless to say that I absolutely loved this book; I'd be surprised if it doesn't have a similar impact to last year's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It's the story of Augusta Hope, a twin, who has never felt as though she fit in, and is nothing like her sister Julie. It runs parallel with the story of a young Burundian man, Parfait, whose life is dictated by the civil war that ravaged his country. It's beautifully written, and made me laugh and cry, and it was the perfect book to finish the year on!
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After the startling detail, about her parents being responsible for a death ,on the opening page it is soon obvious that Augusta Hope is a contrary character.

Julia is compliant and likes a sedate, planned life and looks forward to a similar future, the total opposite to Augusta, her twin sister, who is always who is called to be places other than were she is now.

A counterpoint to this is the story of Parfait and the sacrifices he makes for a better life.

An interesting tale but it is always obvious how it is all going to draw together.
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This is an unusual book written in an unusual style and with two enigmatic main characters.  The action moves between suburban Hertfordshire, war torn central Africa and romantic southern Spain.  The meanings of family and love are explored in different cultures.  There are many artistic references but also some wnderful, down to earth characters.  An interesting novel.
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