1980s Soho is electric. For Eliza, the heady pull of its nightclubs and free-spirited people leads her into the life she has craved – all glamour, late nights and excitement. But it comes at a heavy cost.
Cassie is fascinated by her family’s history and the abandoned Beaufont Hall. Why won’t her mother talk about it? Offered the chance to restore Beaufont to its former glory, Cassie jumps at the opportunity to learn more about her past.
Separated by a generation, but linked by a forgotten diary, these two women have more in common than they know . . .
It was the fab title that initially drew me to Ilana Fox’s latest novel and as soon as I started reading I was caught! The Glittering Art of Falling Apart begins in 1960 as Lillie Tempest escapes the confines of Beaufont Hall to attend her first party in London. Little could Lillie know that attending that party would have repercussions right through the decades to the present day.
In the present we meet Cassie Cooke. Despite her London upbringing and the fact that the Tempest name has been consigned to the history books, Cassie is curious about her ancestors and feels a strong affinity with the now ramshackle Beaufont Hall. As Cassie is given the chance to visit Beaufont at last she discovers a set of diaries that begin to unlock the past and the mysterious Beaufont women.
The diaries tell the story of Eliza, Lillie’s daughter as she comes of age in the late 70s and early 80s. I loved the flash backs to Eliza’s story and really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Like a moth to a flame, seventeen year old Eliza is drawn to the glitz and glamour of 80s Soho but what price will Eliza pay for her freedom? I thought Ilana captured the hedonism and the dark side of 80s Soho perfectly and I could easily imagine Eliza and her friends lives. The story is all the more realistic for using clubs and locations that really existed and with the inclusion of music and famous names of the time, The Glittering Art of Falling Apart feels like an insider look behind the scenes of a key time in Soho history.
Despite the ups and downs of Eliza’s life and her sometimes sad choices as the story progressed I had a lot of sympathy for her character and Ilana did an excellent job of making me as a reader understand why she chose her path. I was captivated by Eliza as a character and really hoping for her to have a happy ending.
Cassie too is caught up in finding out what happened to Eliza, how she is linked to her family and why her diaries were at Beaufont. I liked Cassie as a character too even though on the surface she’s the absolute opposite of the hedonistic Eliza. Cassie works in an antiquarian book shop and books play an important part in her life and the novel too. I admired Cassie’s determination and strength to fight for the family home that she feels such affinity with and the descriptions of Beaufont are wonderful.
Ilana crafts a clever and complex story of a family of strong independent women who are all willing to fight for what they believe in. As the novel came to a close I felt sadness and loss but was also surprised by the turns that the story had taken. With glamour, mystery, drama and intrigue, this is an excellent book to curl up and lose yourself in – ideal weekend reading!
The Glittering Art of Falling Apart is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Orion.
I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.
Find out more about Ilana Fox and her writing at: http://www.ilanafox.com/