The Other Half of Augusta Hope

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Member Reviews

The Other Half of Augusta Hope is the stunning debut novel from Joanna Glen.  Julia and Augusta Hope are twins; Julia born in the final hours of 31 July and Augusta in the early hours of August 1st. Their different birthdays are just the beginning of their differences, Julia is blonde, Augusta is dark, Julia is the perfect daughter who does as she is told, Augusta questions everything in life, Julia is a homebird and happy to stay in her home town, Augusta wants to move away, discover the world, as home doesn’t feel like home for her, and she feels second best.  After a tragedy, Augusta finally flees her parents home and goes looking for another home, a place where she can be herself.

Augusta is a wonderful heroin and a mascot for all those who feel a bit different and displaced.  As a child she is highly intelligent, always asking questions and reads the dictionary to feed her love of words. The complete opposite to her sister, she realises she annoys her parents who are very narrow-minded, traditional and don’t understand her, like her wanting to befriend James next door who is disabled.  As a child she decides to choose Burundi as her favourite country just because she likes the way the word sounds, and, as a parallel to Augusta’s story there is the story of Parfait from Burundi.  Parfait shares similar dreams and ideas with Augusta, he also wants a better life, dreams of finding a home elsewhere, even if it is for different reasons; civil war, rape, and murder. These two characters, from different sides of the world, with different lives, share hopes, dreams and tragedy and their stories mirror how somethings transcend nationality, race, and geogaphy.

Joanna Glen’s writing style is lyrical and poetical, she shows great understanding of the emotions and lives of her characters and is able to write about them in a beautiful way so the reader can feel and live those emotions with the characters.  The two parallel story lines are a stark contrast to each other but show that no matter where we are in the world we all share the same expectations from life, and that we all have to deal with death, love, loss and tragedy.  It is these themes that resonated with me and underpin the narrative of this book.  Yes, there are some difficult issues raised during the book, but ultimately I found this to be an uplifting read about the importance of family, love, and following your heart.

The Other Half of Augusta Hope is a stunning debut novel, full of emotion and heart and I think it will be one of those books we will be talking about for the rest of the year.  Beautifully written, with complex and endearing characters that can’t help but love and maybe a few you don’t love as much.  I found this a captivating and heartwarming read and one that will stay in my memory for a long time; a moving and remarkable read.
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This book is a delight. Entirely believable and loveable characters with such accurate depictions of family dynamics.  The chapters alternating between characters are cleverly done and heighten the anticipation that eventually these two parallel worlds will come together. Highly recommended.
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I found this book to be very unusual and not my cup of tea at all. Difficult to get into, but I warmed to the characters by mid way. 
A heart warming story.
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This book took me a little while to get into, but that might have just been me. The story is told from two perspectives, Augusta, an extremely bright girl who lives in England with her twin sister Julia and her parents, and Parfait, an artist from Burundi whose life is so awful his only dream is escape.

Initially the stories are so diametric that you're not quite sure how they're going to come together, but it was constantly playing on my mind that they were probably going to come together, so I was anticipating it, and waiting for it, and that for me was part of the problem. 

The characters are flawed, which usually I love, but the extremity of some of it was so difficult to perceive and swallow. I found myself relating to Augusta, but at the same time, struggling with her character. There were parts of the book that I found difficult to process/swallow, not anything wrong with the overarching story, but the small details that made me go "really?"

Re-reading this it might be surprising that I gave this book 4 stars. But you can't help falling for the characters, the rich descriptions, the sense of duende. I think this is a very accomplished book, but I felt it has some room to grow.
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Augusta Hope and her twin sister Julia are bought up in a small town, but they are like chalk and cheese in their personalities. “Augusta loves words like other people love sweets or ice cream” and dreams of traveling to more exotic places whereas Julia is more of a homebody falling in love and marrying a neighbour happy with her life.

I Loved that Augusta was completely unique, she reads a lot and asks lots of questions. Her favourite book is the dictionary and she soaks up general knowledge like a sponge!! People including her family think she is slightly strange and her sister is her only close friend. I could emphasis with her as I was the same as a child, a proper bookworm!!

When Augusta’s life is turned upside down by a family tragedy, she follows her dreams of travelling to find a place she can call home.  

Parfait lives with his brothers and sisters in Burundi and dreams of leaving the civil war and poverty behind. 

The 2 stories run parallel to each other and you know that their paths will cross but not how or where. 

A beautifully written book full of emotion about love, happiness and finding a place where you feel like you can belong.  I Felt from the beginning it was fate that would bring Parfait and Augusta together and I was not disappointed in the ending.

Thank you to Netgalley in exchange for a review.
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Even more than romantic love this book looks at familial love – and most particularly at the relationship between siblings where unconditional love is mixed in with feelings of jealousy, resentment and the kind of intimate, long-term knowledge which enables someone to deeply hurt with just a word. Augusta Hope is not just a sister, she is a twin who is very close to her sister, Julia, even though they are very different from each other. Julia is outgoing, pretty and charming: Augusta is clever, spiky and awkward, the kind of child who decides that Burundi is her favourite country and then learns everything about it. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, we learn about Parfait who is growing up in Burundi itself surrounded by a loving family and a terrible civil war. After the loss of both parents and many of his siblings Parfait begins to plan a journey across Africa and, eventually to Spain. The two stories meet in Spain itself where these two characters’ lives become entwined after both suffer great losses. Each has been torn almost in two by the tragic loss of a beloved sibling and, although they are both trying to heal themselves, their final return to wholeness is brought about by the support of the other.

A gentle romance for those who like a little sorrow mixed in with the joy. For fans of Elinor Oliphant or Ruth Hogan.
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This is an interesting, quirky and unusual book. I actually read it twice because I wanted to savour the way the lives of the characters intertwine and affect each other's lives. Augusta and Julia are twins who are very different from each other, in looks and approach to life, Julia being the home bird like her parents, Augusta with her love of languages and longing to spread her wings. I love the descriptions of the young Augusta and her imagination and love of words, languages and poetry. She spins a globe and finds a country that she likes the sound of, Burundi, and adopts it as her own, finding out as much as she can about it. The story of Parfait, who is from Burundi, is told in alternate chapters to Augusta's. He lives a parallel life, threads of which intersect with hers. They both have tragedies in their lives and their stories are linked without either of them knowing it until the end. Augusta's parents and their neighbours, far from being minor characters, all have a big part to play in the story. My mother used to quote the poem "The Pedlar Man" to me when I was a child so I loved that bit. I was so happy with the epilogue. It could not have been more perfect, parfait, perfecto, perfectus.
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The Other Half of Augusta Hope is a beautifully crafted dual narrative that focuses on family, love, grief and hope. Augusta, an extraordinary young woman trapped in mundane, suburban life longs for adventure. Parfait, a young man born and raised in war-torn Burundi dreams of a better life for him and his family. Their respective dreams cost them both greatly in ways that’ll twist your emotions in knots and make you cry quietly beside the pool surrounded by people (not talking from experience or anything). I think multi narratives often fall into the trap of a fantastic build up but an unsatisfactory ending when those threads are eventually wound together but I am happy to report that this wasn’t the case here. A fantastic debut and I cannot wait to read more from Joanna Glen. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Borough Press for my copy of this fantastic book.
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I absolutely loved this book!  Augusta Hope is a wonderful character, who I warmed to immediately.  Her family is normal and believable, especially her parents, who seem drawn from real life.  The contrasting story of Parfait is cleverly interwoven with Augusta's and the result is a really uplifting book.
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August loves words, Spain and she is fascinated by Burundi.  Thisis the story of her and her twin Julia. 
I really liked the idea for this book and I was gripped by the opening chapters. However it lost its way about half way through once I figured out what was going to happen.
The ending felt rushed almost as of the author was running out of time.  Too many undeveloped characters and missed opportunities
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A beautiful book and, amazingly, a debut novel for Joanna Glen.  I almost gave up in the first few chapters, I'm afraid, as I couldn't see how the two disparate strands of this book could possibly be woven together in a coherent way from Willow Close to Burundi.  However I'm so glad I stuck with it, as the workings of fate (and this skilled author) gradually manage to merge the two parts of the book in a subtle way, which doesn't feel contrived or awkward.  As I became drawn to both characters and invested in their stories, I was totally absorbed in the poetic but credible writing and the roller coaster ride of emotions that actually made me cry at one point.  It was one of those books that you want to finish to find out what will happen, but then wish it would go on for much longer.  A really lovely exploration of twinned lives and well worth the journey!
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Slow-burning but moving dual story of pain, love and finding your place.

From the first, Augusta Hope held my attention: a girl who reads the dictionary, who doesn't fit into the staid suburban life her parents and twin sister take comfort in. Across the world in Burundi, a boy her age sees those he love killed or scarred by civil war, and attempts to escape to where he sees safety and possible salvation in Spain.

The two stories are, on the surface, very different. Parfait finds his way to Spain as a migrant, and then tries to make a new life for himself, despite his tragic experiences, his pain. Augusta grows up in a middle-class dull life with a twin sister content with her childhood sweetheart and traditional, insipid parents. 

We know from the start that Augusta's story ends in Spain, years in the future. But we don't know how she gets there. We also see regular connections between Parfait and Augusta and their disparate narratives. Parfait must work for a living, from a young age. Augusta explores her academic interests and eventually gets to escape her bland existence for University. 

To discuss the plot in any depth would mar it. It's a slow moving story, though you know the general direction and have to anticipate the future with patience. Augusta takes on much of the narrative, though both characters are well-enough drawn, she is the stronger.

Emotional in its impact, it's also full of love - for siblings and family, friends and lovers. I liked it for Augusta, and the enjoyable settling at the close.

A few too many coincidences throughout, but commendable enough, with themes of war atrocities, suicide and depression, guilt. Despite this, it has its uplifting moments.

With thanks to Netgalley for the sample reading copy.
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This book was brilliant and how the two stories intertwined was so clever. Incredibly sad at times, it had a really satisfying ending and I was rooting for Augusta the whole time.
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Written in chapters that alternate POV between Augusta, a bookish and eccentric twin living in the UK suburbia, and Parfait, a Burundian refugee fleeing to Spain, this is a clever, beautiful and utterly heartwrenching novel about family, relationships, loss, grief and the ways human lives can intersect and influence each other.  

I came into this book having forgotten the synopsis and with no expectations, and I completely adored it, reading it in just two sittings.  Glen's prose is beautiful and reflects the mood of the characters - lively and buoyant when they are happy, or fragmented and deconstructed when they are in turmoil.  

It's one of those books where I'll be thinking about it for a while and recommending it to everyone around me.  HIghly recommended. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for the advanced digital copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.
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Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.

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.

And now that she's an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.

When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta's life, she's propelled headfirst into the unknown. She's determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?

REVIEW:- I had to take some time before I rated and reviewed The Other Half of Augusta Hope, and I'm still not 100% sure how I feel. In some ways I appear to have enjoyed it, reading the book in two sittings, but in others I'm still waiting for the story to sink in.

Written via two povs which doesn't make much sense until you're a fair bit into the book, it's written as if the characters are talking to you. The story is mainly set in the pasts of the two characters. Augusta's pov in particular could be confusing but it did mature as I suppose the character did, her thoughts running away with her. Parfait's chapters were haunting and sad and hopeful and vibrant.

I'd definitely recommend The Other Half of Augusta Hope, it's a beautiful story, and whilst so sad at times, there is hope too.
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This book was thoroughly enjoyable. It is a story of someone who doesn’t quite fit in in their own lives and compares herself to others. It was an emotional book provoking myself to look at my own thoughts and behaviours. Extremely well written. The only negative for me was that the end felt rushed but other than that I loved it!!
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I absolutely adored this book - one of my top books of the year. The story is told by Augusta and Parfait - the narrator changes with each chapter. Augusta is Julia's twin and the story traces their childhood and how the girls are so different but bound by blood and shared experience. Augusta is slightly socially awkward and is interested in words and language whereas Julia is more 'traditional' and aspires to grow up, marry and raise children. Parfait is from the little known country Burundi and has a very different life. His country is at war and his family face many challenges.

There are so many emotions in this story - I laughed, cried and felt so connected to the characters. Some of Joanna's descriptions are quite simply wonderful. The last few chapters weren't as engrossing as the rest of the book but this does not diminish my enjoyment.

Fans of Eleanor Oliphant, The Versions of Us and Elvira Carr will likely enjoy this.

I highly recommend it!
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I liked it but didn’t love it. However, the two storylines, Augusta and Parfait, I found easy to follow and linked together beautifully. Sometimes when this has been done in other novels I found it to be either distracting, difficult to switch or just annoying but here it feels essential to the unfolding storyline. For some reason I just didn’t warm to any of the characters, however it is well written and a good read, just not memorable.
Thanks Netgalley and Harpercollins for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Before I started reading this I had heard it being compared with Eleanor Oliphant and I can see some of the similarities in the loneliness and behaviour of Augusta, but that's where it stops. This is a book that starts with Augusta at the age of 6 who chooses Burundi as her favourite place and alternates with Parfait's story of growing up in Burundi. The clever way the author interweaves the alternating chapters was brilliant to read, I never knew which part would be picked up and spoken about next which was good.  The harrowing tale of Parfait was hard to read, but didn't go into too much detail. Unfortunately though I didn't love this book, I didn't really connect with Augusta until about 70% of the way through and this detracted from my enjoyment. There are some sucker punch moments throughout that left me needing a minute to compose myself and I can see this author is great at what she does, but I struggled with reading it. Overall, I think that there will be so many people that love this book, but I wasn't one of them.
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A beautifully crafted book which deals with all human emotions told from two different aspects.
One from an English twin called Augusta and the other Parfait a refugee from Burundi a  war torn country in the continent of Africa.
It describes their journey in life before they eventually meet and fall in love. Well researched it describes how refugees make the dangerous trip to a better life and the losses that they incur to get to where they want to be both before and after they arrive.
It deals with all aspects of human loss in a very humble way.
It is one of those books that leave a lasting effect on you.
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