The Other Half of Augusta Hope

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Member Reviews

A beautifully written novel which touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.  A novel of sadness but also hope.  As it is set in an area that I live in I could visualise perfectly the migration of birds and the whale watching from Tarifa which I saw only last month.
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I love stories with quirky characters that walk out of step with the rest of society and Augusta Hope is certainly up there with top favourites.
Augusta is a twin but she is as different from her sister as the other side of a coin. Their mother adores Julia, born on the last day of July, and her father is proud of his obedient daughter but Augusta born on the first day of August, constantly questions the world and is totally headstrong. I knew from the first couple of chapters that this was going to be an unpredictable and compelling story for me. It was that and more.
For all their differences, the girls had that bond of being twins but as they grew older they looked as different outside as they were inside, their lives were to take very different paths. The story branches into three, the two girls and a young man whose only connection to the story, to begin with, is from the day Augusta chose the country he lives in as her favourite place in the world because she liked the sound of the name, although she knew nothing of it.  I loved Augusta’s strong will and the principles that she fought for, even as a child. She could see past the shell of people and it was pure magic.
This isn’t a story about an event, this is a story about life. Relationships, love, loss and family. It is quirky, funny, beautiful and heartbreaking. I laughed and I cried. I didn’t want Augusta to fit in, I wanted everyone to fit her. This story will stay with me, one of many this year. Beautifully written, moving and as unique as Augusta.
I wish to thank NetGalley for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
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This is a very likeable story about twin sisters Julia and Augusta growing up in middle England, and Parfait, a boy growing up in Burundi. It's a celebration of sisterhood, love, and relationships as well as overcoming adversity and tragedy. Augusta loves words and the author's writing style portrays this very well. I loved the parts set in Spain -these were very well written.
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At times I struggled with the tale of the very quirky and unusual Augusta Hope and the parallel story of Parfait. The writing style was not conventional and includes poetry and other library references. It sometimes felt that I was literally intruding on someone's thoughts.
I am so glad that I stayed with this novel as it was heartwarming and heart wrenching in equal measures. The path to adulthood for Augusta and her twin, Julia, whilst living with their unusual family and also for Parfait as he struggles for a better life explores issues which are tragic and hard to comprehend. 
I would recommend this novel and thank you to Netgalley for my copy of this novel
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The Hope family live on a very English road in a town where the most exciting thing in the local area is the coming of a new ASDA. Twins Augusta and Julia are young girls at the novel’s opening, and the setting up of their ordinary lives and the charming quirkiness of Augusta, a precocious child with a fondness for reading the dictionary and an inability to hold her tongue, makes for an appealing start. It’s a bit of a surprise when the novel then splits into a dual narrative set on Burundi, but as they characters grow and develop their stories slowly begin to weave together. 

The book’s description and a number of hints in early chapters tell you that Something is coming, and quite early on you begin to get an inkling of what that Something might be, but it takes a long time to happen. That’s not to say that other things don’t happen - they do, and the story is full and engaging. 

Augusta is a very likeable main character, and the book is written with an honesty and tenderness that really appealed to me. After a richly detailed and textured early part of the book, the last part seemed to gallop along a bit, but I still enjoyed it.
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Augusta Hope is a twin. Her sister Julia was born first, on 31 July. Augusta made it across midnight to the 1st August, hence their names.

Julia and Augusta are not identical. They don't look alike, their personalities are very different but they love each other deeply. While Julia is obedient and her parents'' favourite, Augusta is prickly and doesn't get on particularly well with either her mother or her father who find her a puzzle. Augusta is very bright, very interested in words and language. At the age of 7, asked what her favourite country is she says Burundi because of the sounds and shape it makes in her mouth.. 

This is a story from two points of view, Augusta's and that of a boy in Burundi, Parfait, who watches the massacres in his country and dreams of taking what remains of his family to safety in Spain. Both stories are told equally well, not always the case in dual narrative novels. Both stories are deeply moving and human and we watch them grow and develop into adults. learning from their mistakes. 

I loved this book and the two main characters. The other characters too are very well drawn from Augusta''s parents to their neighbours who have a profoundly disabled son. There is so much of interest in the novel. Augusta is so endlessly curious about everything that there are masses of facts thrown in as part of her conversations. Thanks to the publishers, Harper Collins and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the ARC of this terrific novel.
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This is a story for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong.

At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi. Augusta is a twin, born in August. Her sister, Julia, was born in July (yes, completely possible..) Within this book we follow Augusta’s life as she explores the world firstly from the confines of her own bedroom until she’s old enough to branch out further and further into the lands that initially she only dreams of. At the same time, we follow Parfait’s life – as he navigates the complex political turmoil of Burundi and the tragedy that accompanies his narrative.

To describe the difference between twins Julia and Augusta is both simple and difficult at the same time. This quote from the book sums them up perfectly…

“Our fifth birthday, one year of school done, and my legs and arms narrowing as I rose an inch above Julia’s head. 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 a fishpond singing, ‘We all live in a yellow submarine.’”

There’s an essence of all of my favourite literary works in this book. But equally something that makes it totally unique. This is perfect for fans of Matilda, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and M for Mammy. I dislike suggesting authors similar to others because I feel a work of amazing literature is the writers own – in their own right. But suggesting other titles feels more comfortable.

“I quickly thought of about twenty-five things that were less exciting than the new ASDA… Lard and washing up liquid..fingernail clippings and trowels…”

Perhaps the most fascinating thing for me, about this book, is that it’s Joanna Glen’s first. An extremely strong debut novel (I always feel that Debut is a sign of hope – that there will be more). I certainly hope that this isn’t Glen’s last dive into the literary world.
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This was a lovely story told from the points of view of two people from completely different backgrounds and continents.  Augusta grows up in the Little England small town of Hedley Green with her staid parents and twin sister Julia.  Parfait grows up in Burundi with his parents, two sisters and four brothers in the middle of a civil war that takes over half of his family away from him: starting with the murder of his pacifist father, then the repeated rape of his sisters (“The soldiers, when they felt like it, broke into our hut and broke my sisters’ bodies as if they were clay jars with nothing inside them”) and their subsequent disappearance, and the deaths of his mother and brother Claude.  Both want to escape their homes: Augusta because home is intensely boring and she has an insatiable curiosity that is as foreign to the rest of her family as is Outer Mongolia; Parfait’s reasons for wanting to leave are obvious.
For both, family is very important – in particular, neither wants to leave their siblings behind.  For Augusta, Julia is more than just her twin sister.  “if I left and she stayed, we wouldn’t be Justa any more. We’d be ripped apart like the ragdoll, with our stuffing falling out”. They share everything, until Julia will not discuss something that happens on a rare family trip abroad to Spain.  Parfait only manages to convince his youngest brother, Zion, to accompany him on his epic trek to Europe, leaving his remaining two brothers and friend, Spanish priest Victor, behind.  Spain becomes the dream destination for them both.
For Parfait, Victor’s homeland is a land of plenty and peace, where he and Zion can make their home, safe from all the violence of Burundi.  Augusta fell in love with Spain on her holiday there with her parents and Julia.  She learned the Spanish language, studied the literature at university, and could barely wait to get back there.  
It is clear from the start that Parfait’s voyage to Spain will be the more traumatic of the two.  He and Zion walk from Burundi to Morocco (over 5500 kilometres by plane!), from whence they will take a boat across the Mediterranean.  After the long arduous trek across most of Africa, Parfait believes that the tiny strip of water – seemingly no bigger than a river on the maps – should pose no problems.  Unfortunately, as everyone who has seen the news stories about the migrants drowning as they attempt the crossing knows, Parfait is very much mistaken.  While there are few details of the walk, the boat trip across the Mediterranean is covered fully.  As you read it, you are willing their tiny boat forward.  They must reach the Spanish shore safely, and be able to claim asylum.  Just because so many die trying to get to Europe, it doesn’t mean that Parfait and Zion should also die.
There is death and loss in this book (a lot of it), but also love – for family, friends and partners.  There is the closed-mindedness and intolerance of Augusta’s parents for anyone or anything that is not ‘normal’ and English, contrasting with the Augusta’s open-hearted friendship with her disabled (possibly autistic?) neighbour, Graham Cook, and her constant desire to learn as much as possible about new countries and cultures. And there is flamenco – more a spiritual experience than just a dance.
The writing is very good, and the author clearly shares her creation’s love of words: “I thought about the size of different words – or should I say the depth, or the space they take up? I wasn’t referring to the number of letters they had but to what manner of thing or things were held within those letters”.  The two main characters are well developed and invite your empathy.  Though, I must say that I much preferred Parfait as a person – Augusta’s flaws were just a bit too close to my own.
I enjoyed reading this book, and in places loved it.  It makes you really think about what causes people to up sticks and leave their county, and how much they actually know about what awaits them.  Desperate hope rather than reality guides many refugees.  But could you honestly say that you would not want to have the courage of Parfait to do what he did, if you were in a similar situation?
I am torn between 4 and 5 stars for this book – it lost me a bit in the middle, but it concluded beautifully.  So, rounding up to 5.  The ending is a real tear-jerker – so have the tissues ready.
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This book was an absolute joy to read.  I have recently over-indulged in psychological thrillers and police procedurals so to read this book was like taking a  deep breath of sea air.
I fell in love with Augusta Hope, I totally got her character and where she came from.  Without putting too many spoilers in my review Augusta falls for what is her male counterpart.  Twin flames but they do not know it.  
Augusta is one of twin girls but never really felt that complete deep connection with her twin but always knew that there was someone just like her.  Someone who she could and should find that deep connection with, trouble is there is no one else like her....
Meanwhile on the other side of the world there is a boy who is that other half.   There meeting which is inevitable.  How the story pans out is sad, upsetting, dramatic but totally believable.
I adore this book and encourage everyone to spend some time in the company of Augusta Hope.
Will give this book 5 stars, and heartily recommend to everyone.

With thanks to netgalley for allowing me to review this title
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It's hard for me to write a review for this book. All I can say is I felt every emotion and I will remember it always
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Augusta is a twin. Her sister Julia is the oldest twin. Augusta took that long to be born that the sisters were born on different days and different months. They are like chalk and cheese. Augusta has never quite fitted in, her idea of having fun is reading the  dictionary and learning new words. She decides that Burundi is her favourite country and she's eager to find out more about it. Meanwhile in Burundi, Parfait's family have been raped, tortured and killed by soldiers in a horrific civil war. His dreams are to escape bit he is also duty bound to look out for his younger siblings. 

The story is told over two decades from the 1990's. Augusta was a challenging child. We follow the story of the girls as they move from adolescent into adults. Parfait is desperate to escape from Africa and start a new life with his siblings. The story is told in alternating parts. The stories are beautifully intertwined together. This is a well written story that I was quickly caught up in. This is the authors debut novel.
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This is an amazing debut novel.  It’s not an easy read (or so I thought) but well worth the rewards you get. Wonderfully written, the characters pull you right in and you fall in love with them. There will be tears as well as joy.  It’s a very emotional read, full of heartache, joy , hope, family and home.  You really should read this book. 


Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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Augusta and Julia are twins different in appearance ,temperament and their general likes and dislikes .Augusta feels like a fish out of water and has done since she was born .She doesn’t fit into her families small world in their home town and takes great pleasure in words and dictionaries.  She decides that Burundi is the best country name in the world and sets out to find out as much as she can about it much to the  annoyance of the rest of the family . Augusta’s story runs alongside the story of Parfait , who no longer feels at home in Burundi but cannot bear to leave his family to seek a better life. At first you wonder what the two stories have in common but later in the book it becomes obvious and in fact there is a cryptic clue at the beginning of the story. This is a slow burner of a book but once you relax into the way it is written- beautifully - you get lost in the story. It is at times humorous and emotional a complex layered story of hope, tragedy and love and the quest to find your place in the world- your home. I loved it and look forward to reading more from this author
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Augusta Hope was born on August 1st; her twin sister Julia on July 31st. Together the very different girls are Justa. Augusta loves words. As a child she picks her favourite country for the sound of its name - Burundi. Meanwhile, over in civil war ravaged Burundi is Parfait, who dreams of Spain. Narration moves between the two of them. Will they meet?

Beautifully written, the author revels in words and poetry as Augusta does. Hope and dreams are explored together with the effect of others on our lives. Ultimately an uplifting book.
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Augusta and Julia Hope are twins, but born either side of midnight so having different birth dates. They are different in every way, with Julia being a passive, agreeable child and Augusta questioning and challenging life. Things change for the family after a holiday in Spain, and ultimately leads to tragedy.

At the same time, in Burundi, Parfait Nduwimana lives through the country’s civil war, which claims the lives of his parents and brother and the disappearance of his sisters. He starts to plan for a new life in Europe with his brothers. When the time comes, only his youngest brother comes with him on the perilous journey north.

This was a very well written story, making me laugh and cry in equal measure.  I really enjoyed the way the two stories gradually came together as Augusta rebelled against convention and found her own way of dealing with loss. 

A good holiday read.
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The Other Half Of Augusta Hope is a different kind of read for me and wasn’t one I felt immersed in.
Augusta Hope is a twin, she loves words and she doesn’t really fit in. Parfait lives in Burundi whose live is very different to Augusta’s but has similarities. These two stories run parallel to each other throughout the book getting closer and closer. It is a book that has personal loss, grief and struggles all the way through and showed Augusta’s love of language singing through helping when she meets Parfait.
This book unfortunately didn’t work out for me, I have seen some reviews and know I am against the majority here it’s just I struggled to connect to the main characters, I found Augusta to be about eighty per cent of the book and Parfait felt like an after thought and he could have had a much bigger and better part. The book at the beginning took too long to get into it and I was half lost by that moment.
I would like to thank Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, The Borough Press for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is quite a challenging read. It is very well written, but I found the constant introspection of Augusta trying. The analytical description of the minutae of her early family life became very irritating and eventually. I found it hard to stick with the narrative, it was so painfully slow at times. 
This is not a book I can say I personally enjoyed, though I am sure it will appeal to many others. It just wasn’t for this reader, I’m sorry to say. 
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance copy of this book.
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The Other Half of Augusta Hope is a hauntingly sad story of a lonely, misunderstood girl as she grows to adulthood and learns to face loss, accept love and live the life she has always longed for.

That said this is also not a sad story: the writing is poetic and the tone is light and often wryly humorous as Augusta shares with the reader her unique perceptions and slanted approach to life.  Short, fragmented sentences, peppered with factual information and subject changes give the reader direct insight into Augusta’s dragonfly mind and it is painful to feel her emotional isolation as she struggles to connect and communicate with her loved ones. There are definitely possible comparisons here with books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or Lost For Words in both the quirky main character and the challenges she faces.

Woven between, and mirroring, Augusta’s life we also see the struggles of Parfait in Burundi, as he too longs for escape from the country of his birth but clings to the family he loves.  It was pretty obvious from early on that the two separate threads would eventually converge – it was just a matter of when and how!  What was more important though was the two individual journeys that led to that eventual point and how it shaped and changed the characters as they lived their different (yet sometimes similar) experiences.

Anyone who enjoys intimate tales of growing-up, love, family, loss and not-belonging will enjoy The Other Half of Augusta Hope.

 

Is love reciprocal, I wondered.
Is it some kind of Pavlovian reaction?
Someone decides to love you so you just love them back.  Had I loved Olly Macintosh all those years simply because he loved me?  And if somebody else had chosen to love me, would I have loved them instead?  Was I that biddable?  If so, I was a danger to myself.  And isn’t it the job of mothers and fathers to love first, and to love equally, and to love better than their children?  Or was I supposed to help them love me by being what they wanted me to be?

– Joanna Glen, The Other Half of Augusta Hope

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
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Augusta has never been your average child. She loves reading the dictionary, analysing the orgins of words and has decided her favourite country is Bunrundi, in spite of never having been there. Parfait has escaped from Burundi on foot, putting the wars and unrest behind him and making a new life in Spain. Beautifully written, heartbreaking in places and a compelling read.
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Perhaps, it is a societal backlash that novels’ featuring, main characters who aren’t accepted because they don’t conform to society’s unwritten expectations, despite their obvious intelligence, and generosity of spirit, are so popular now.

Augusta Hope, a twin born in August, is a cuckoo in the nest, she and her twin appear opposite in every trait. Augusta is a caring, clever, curious child, devoted to her sister, but it seems, a mystery to her almost stereotypical middle class, conformist parents. This leads to some humorous incidents during her childhood. Overall her memories of childhood are poignant. Even at a young age, she realises she isn’t like her sister and will never secure the parental love she needs.

Parfait is the eldest of a loving family, but living in war-torn Burundi, means that his happiness is transient. His journey to happiness is pathed with tragedy.

The two points of view tell their respective stories in tandem, but with little obvious connection, until serendipity gradually draws them into each others’orbit.

The writing style is part of the charm of this story, and one l enjoy. Words are important and used well here, regardless of whether they are strictly necessary, or fashionable. On a literary level, this is lovely. The plot tells an epic story, which some may not connect to. The characters are well created, believable, and you want them to find each other, and somewhere they can be themselves and flourish.

Parts of this story are difficult to read, but they are all necessary to the telling.

Something for everyone who enjoys an emotional story with vivid imagery and a hopeful outcome.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK - Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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