The Companion

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

Author Kim Taylor Blakemore has written a riveting historical novel with many twists and turns. Lucy Blunt seems to be a victim of circumstance as she was being raised by her father, who is a drunk. As the story unfolds, it seems Lucy was trying to survive any way that she could, from stealing from her employers to possibly prostitution. Being thrown out of her father's home due to being pregnant by a married man, Lucy is devastated when her baby dies. Using different alias, Lucy goes to work until circumstances cause her to change locations again. The brunt of this story is told from the past and then the present situation, Lucy is set to hang for the murder of her last employer's wife, Eugenie Burton, who was also Lucy's lover, and her employer's cousin, Rebecca. The mystery behind the murder's is weaved throughout the story. Lucy claims her innocence right up to the end but it is never really clear as to who the murderer was. Lucy declares Rebecca as the killer and in the way it is depicted, it is possible. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and I envisioned each scene as it progressed. Author Kim Taylor Blakemore completely drew me in as each chapter was read! I look forward to seeing what more this talented author will be writing next
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Unreliable narrators, openly interesting relationships that run the gamut and an unlikeable at first protagonist.  Is Lucy telling the truth?  Only you can decide.
A very good historical novel, that I greatly enjoyed, with themes that I'll discuss on my blog later.
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I was so excited for this book because it seemed in the same genre of Alias Grace which I absolutely devoured. I loved the unreliable narrator who we as the reader (along with other characters in the book) desperately wanted to believe but left us questioning everything and everyone. 

Things I Liked: 
1. Unreliable narrator
2. None of the characters were completely likeable. There were things that made you question their intentions and actions. They were sometimes wonderful and other times wonderfully cruel.
3. LGBTQ content!!! In 1850s America!!!! So rarely seen in novels and I loved that it was involved in this story (no spoilers for who or how though)
4. So suspenseful. I read the last 40% late into the night because I just couldn't put it down and had to know how it ended.

Things I Didn't:
1. The story was a little hard to track and I almost feel like I need to read it again so I don't miss anything. Time jumped between the present, past, distant past, present, back to recent past without any kind of indication time had changed. I couldn't get a handle on tracking until about halfway through.
2. The ending will not be satisfying for some. It seems like you got a resolution and the truth is finally out but did you really?

Overall I would definitely recommend this to fans of Alias Grace and I will be rereading again in the future!
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I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Lucy Blunt is in prison and sentenced to hang for double murder. The story is told from her perspective as a maid in a new household, her role as companion to the Mistress of the house,  then finally as a prisoner for a crime she claims she didn't commit.
Really good historical crime fiction.  I really didn't like Lucy's character at the beginning,  but the flashbacks to her past and the way she's treated by the other servants made me see her in a different light.
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The Companion is an intriguing story told from the point of view of Lucy Blunt, a young woman sentenced to death by hanging.  While she waits for news on her appeal her story is told with twists and turns along the way.  It is hugely atmospheric and recounts perfectly the baser human instincts of loyalty and betrayal. However, it did lose me along the way sometimes, particularly when it jumped from Lucy in her prison cell and the events which led her there.  It was a dark read, gloomy and I found it hard to remain focused on the story at times.  The characters just didn’t engage me.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy 
#TheCompanion #NetGalley
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Fingersmith meets Alias Grace. But, Lucy isn't as engrossing as Grace and her love affair with Gene isn't as enthralling as Susan and Maud's.

I think I would have appreciated this more had a few more things been flushed out a bit better, but there are a lot of loose ends. Who killed Mary? What was Rebecca's motivation in all this? 
And, really, Lucy didn't need that many tragi-secret backstories. One is actually enough. Historically, it doesn't take much to put a woman down on her luck and have no one believe her/be in her corner, so maybe stop at the one cause. Extras don't make it more believable or more sympathetic. 
The denouement is also a bit chaotic, the big reveal of the events that lead to Lucy's imprisonment all happen in a rather madcap fashion that left me as much befuddled as enlightened.

That being said, I enjoyed this read and I think the frame narrative is really successful - I actually think I found it more compelling than the central plot. As Lucy is waiting for her execution (or stay from it) her days in prison are filled with interesting reflections, interactions with other characters (new and previously established), and come the conclusion of the novel, I think everything felt narratively earned.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the arc to review.
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I recieved a copy for review from NetGalley in exchange for review. Overall I very much enjoyed this one. It was slightly mysterious and featured a main character who was very flawed and of questionable character, yet her story was very poignant and resonated with the reader. The novel alternated between the protagonist Lucy's past and her current situation in prison for murder. The back and forth between time periods with no warning was the only real issue I had with the novel. I found it sometimes hard to follow, and was annoyed at the changing back and forth. I also expected a but more explanation of a few mysteries in the book that never were fully addressed. It's a solid "3" for the entertainment and characters.
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I really enjoyed this book, its full of drama and twists. My first book to read by this author I will read all her work. Very good.
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A well written atmospheric book...It centers around Lucy Blunt and what happens when she gains employment with the Burtons...It waived between Lucy in prison and what led up to her going to prison...Lucy is haunting in her narrative....
My thanks to Nergalley and the publishers for a free ARC.
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Lucy is serving as a washer in the home of a woman she's fallen in love with, but Lucy is on the run from a past and an exploitative father that finds her no matter where she goes. He holds secrets that she would kill to keep quiet. But is she truly guilty of the things that land her in a cell awaiting the gallows? Perhaps, perhaps not. Dual timeline plot, told from Lucy's point of view, and just spectacular character development. I enjoyed every minute of this twisty tale and Lucy is one of the first characters in a very long time that I've genuinely liked. She's feisty, spirited, and intelligent. Absolutely great read.
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The Companion is a top-notch piece of dark historical fiction with an unreliable narrator. Lucy Blunt tells us the stories of the murders she's about to hang for. She's not responsible for any of them. Or is she? As a reader I wanted to believe Lucy, but I also didn't trust her: there were so many troublesome loose ends and unlikely details. If you like historical writing, if you like mysteries that may never really be resolved, this is a book for you!

[I will put my review on Goodreads and Amazon closer to the publication date.]
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The Book was a quite a thriller with many twists. The story was narrated from the point of view a doomed woman Lucy Banks. The story is set in a historical background which was very interesting and added to the interest in the book. 

I loved this book but it was a bit drawn out in parts, which makes you wander out of story for a bit. Short review due to lack of time, but will update the review in details once I get some time.
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My thanks to NetGalley and publisher Lake Union Publishing, for the ARC.
This is an intriguing book, but I really can't rave about it. 
This is Lucy Blunt's story, her reflections upon the circumstances which have brought her to prison, having been condemned to death by hanging there are some who are still working to overturn the sentence.
It's 1855 in New Hampshire.  Lucy arrives at the Burtons' mansion for the position of washer-up/maid.  She has forged her references which are only cursorily glanced at by Cook.  She's there to replace Mary Dawson who had recently drowned in a near-frozen river.
Mr Burton is a mill owner and his cousin Rebecca is his wife Eugenie's companion.  All doors are kept locked and upstairs is quite a mystery to Lucy until she spies Eugenie one day entering the house unconventionally and realises the Mistress is blind.

Eugenie begins to enjoy Lucy's company to Rebecca's. causing a catastrophic rivalry.  Lucy is a murderess - or is she?  Lucy is a thief - or is she?  Is she misunderstood?

This is an historical drama, but I found the constant references to the frozen ground, ice and freezing temperatures all too detailed and rather tedious.  Yes, there was well-written atmosphere of the time - the horse/carriage/cart transport and dated dialogue, but I didn't find any of the characters particularly interesting.  It was all, well, a bit boring.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and the author Ms. Kim Taylor Blakemore for the opportunity to read this Advanced Readers Copy of "The Companion".

This is an absolutely delicious read! 

Drawn in to the characters immediately, there was no stopping this book...dark and atmospheric with an "Atwoodesque" feel, this is exciting Historical Fiction.

It's 1855, New Hampshire;
From behind prison walls "Lucy Blunt" reflects on the circumstances that brought her here. She is soon to hang in the gallows for heinous crimes...that she may or may not have committed, its difficult to know...

Weaving a rich tapestry of lusts, possessions, and hate, her story is a compelling one as she narrates her life before prison and now on death row.

"Lucy" has a strong descriptive voice that emotes feelings of suffocating hardship, which women can fully appreciate, throughout this Victorian Era story. Struggling with what is about to happen, we listen helplessly as "Lucy" has to accept her fate and come to terms with the choices she created.
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A little too wishy-washy for me, although there were some passages of tense plot exposition and dark description of surroundings.
Who exactly is Lucy Blunt? Not a thief, although she has stolen, not a murderer although she has killed.....
I liked the switching between the present day and the events leading up to Lucy’s imprisonment, that kept the tension high. However, my attention drifted an awful lot throughout the book and around halfway I realised I just didn’t care about any of the characters enough to give it my full attention. Peripheral characters came and went, without ever adding much. There’s an excellent book in here but it was swamped by melodrama, well worn tropes about female relationships and a jarring sense of having read similar yet superior novels. It was also unsure about where it was set, which was irritating. I’m not sure the domestic set up would be applicable in the US at that time and it ticked along as if it were set in an English stately home before throwing in the odd anachronistic mention.
Excellent Reading Club questions at the end for readers who enjoyed the book, but it just didn’t gel together sufficiently for me to like it a lot.
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This book wasn't quite what I expected but I'm glad I read it. It reads like a first had account of events and switched between the current time and a remembrance of events that lead the main character there.
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This is a difficult review for me. 
I thought the writing of this novel was well done. The details were great.
Yet, I could not follow this story easily. 
 It wasn't until the very end that I realized the fate of the main character, Lucy Blunt and could finally connect with her.
It took me three attempts to read this historical fiction novel set in 1855. 
 I did  finish the book after awhile with difficulty.
Definitely a very different type of book that I am sure some will truly love.
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The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore
Source: NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 2/5 stars


The Bottom Line:  This page sat blank for more than 24 hours thanks to me wondering what I really wanted to convey about this book.  Shifting through all the thoughts and feelings came down to one thing: while I didn’t dislike this book, I also feel like it is a story that has been done before, many times over, and done better than what I found between the covers of this book.  The most recent iteration of this trope that comes to mind is Alias Grace though I freely admit there are some large differences between the two stories.  I think what I was looking for in this book, one I was very excited to read based on the synopsis, was something different, some new twist or element that would allow this book in particular to stand out from all the others like it.  Sadly, I did not find that element.
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The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore is a historical fiction novel with a treat for suspense lovers. The reader is made to believe he knows the plot all along, which is obviously tuned upside down as the story progresses.

The best part about this book is the character build up. Every chapter makes the reader change their opinion about the way a certain character will lean, which is beautifully presented even though the task is complex to say the least. Using flashbacks to present important facts about the leading character is a tool perfectly deployed in this case. The gloomy surroundings in which the story is based add to it.

The prose is written for the patient reader: there were times when I wanted the story to take some turn but I was offered with more-and-more useless details.

Even though I am an advocate of open-to-interpretation endings, this one didn't quite fit the bill. Too much is left unsaid.

Thanks to the author and the publisher for the ARC.

Verdict: Read it for the character build up.
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A dark read about lost and forbidden love. The characters are all devious and back stabbers. The atmosphere and setting is gloomy and cold which adds a chilling dimension to the prison setting and Lucy’s working in a house where she is a companion/ slave to the selfish blind mistress. The events leading to the demise of Lucy come to a head at the end of the book. All were responsible for their own fate.
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