The Start of Something
by Holly Williams
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Pub Date 11 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 11 Apr 2024
Orion Publishing Group, Orion
'Bold, playful, generous and lush, it's a story that feels both timeless and urgent - I loved it. Gorgeously and relentlessly queer!' DAISY BUCHANAN
A lover. A bartender. A husband. An artist. A student.
A poet. A sex worker. A welder. A drag queen. A mother.
As the sun sets over the city streets, ten ordinary lives collide with extraordinary consequences.
From thrilling first meetings and impulsive liaisons, to messy misunderstandings and passionate reconciliations, each connection has the potential to be the start of something, or already hints at its own ending.
Yet uniting them all is the desire to find true intimacy in a fractured modern world - to see, and to truly be seen...
A razor-sharp, intoxicating and thought-provoking novel of ten interlocking sexual encounters that will appeal to fans of Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, and 'Modern Love' from the New York Times.
Praise for Holly Williams:
'It's the new One Day' FABULOUS
'Delightful, insightful and immersive' KATE EBERLEN
'Invigorating [and] fascinating' GUARDIAN
'A brilliant, witty, defiantly unsentimental examination of privilege and class and sex and selfhood' MARIANNE LEVY, THE i
'Invigorating...combines the fizz of a romance with an earnest inquiry into the vastly changing fortunes of women, along with questions of class and privilege' Hephzibah Anderson, THE OBSERVER
'A fabulous love story and insightful social history in one' CLAIRE ALFREE, METRO
'An unforgettable story with writing that sparkles: a gem of a read' HOLLY MILLER
'A stunning, skilful, deftly drawn novel. Prose so good I couldn't stop underlining' LAUREN BRAVO
'Wonderful and original' ELAINE FEENEY
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 7 members
Thank you for the digital review copy, Orion Publishing Group, Orion.
The Start of Something was absolutely enthralling.
The Start of Something is Holly Williams’ second novel although some might call it a very closely linked set of short stories or, perhaps, episodes. This new book follows ten disparate characters over the course of a summer, stringing their stories together rather like a daisy chain, beginning and ending with Will whose partner left him after persuading him to move with her to Sheffield.
This is such a cleverly structured novel, the baton smoothly passed from one character to the next with occasional back references neatly slipped in, all at the start of something new, sometimes welcome, sometime not. The overarching theme explores sexuality, gender and identity with empathy, compassion, and the occasional warm-hearted flash of humour. Each character has slept with the next in the chain providing a link between them but it’s their backstories and relationships which grab your attention. Many are lonely or sad, several are trying to please their partners at their own expense, others are heartbroken, but Williams chooses to end her book with a welcome episode of joy and hope.
This book shows just how interlinked our lives can be. It pushes the idea of ‘a friend of a friend’ to its limits and yet still remains believable. The idea of this connection is emphasised further by the repeated mentions of particular descriptive terms and items throughout the book. The ‘ancient floral duvet’ is just one example of this and a smile always appeared on my face when I found another!
The reader immediately falls into the intriguing story of Will in chapter one. I raced through this but will admit I found chapter two slowed down a little and this is why I haven’t given the book five stars. I didn’t connect with the main character as much and I felt some scenes or conversations could have been shortened slightly. From chapter three onwards however the pace really picked up. I felt every bit of Si’s emotional turmoil and I could have believed I was actually at the festival with Rachel. Each chapter flows seamlessly from one to the next and it’s interesting to have the opportunity to see each encounter or relationship from both sides.