Friday, 6 April 2012

Friday book review - Alys, Always by Harriet Lane

Snow, gridlocked traffic, hosepipe bans – the lead-up to Easter hasn’t exactly been cheery this year. In lots of ways I’m quite pleased to be hunkering down at home for the weekend with (hopefully) a stash of chocolate eggs and a pile of good books.

If you’re doing the same in your neck of the woods and are looking for a great read, I can’t recommend Alys, Always highly enough. I’d been interested in Harriet Lane as a writer for a while, ever since I read a moving Daily Telegraph piece about her sight problems. A former staff writer for Tatler and The Observer, she suffers from a rare auto-immune disorder affecting her optic nerve and has lost the sight in one eye.

After losing the journalistic career she loved, Lane decided to turn to novel writing and joined a creative writing class. It was a wise move. In May 2010, the germ of an idea for her debut novel appeared in her head and she began writing. Five months later she’d found a publisher.

Alys, Always is the story of Frances, a lonely, 30-something sub editor on a paper called The Questioner. At work, the literary editor and her bumptious 23-year-old deputy treat her like a skivvy, and at home she leads a colourless, solitary existence where nothing much ever happens.

But one winter evening, as she heads back to London after a visit to her parents, she spots an illuminated shape through the trees. A car has crashed off the road and inside the crumpled wreck a woman is dying. Weeks later, the woman’s family contacts Frances “to meet the person who was there” and she is drawn into their brittle, privileged world - with life-changing consequences.

Alys, Always is a subtle, beautifully observed and exquisitely written novel – the sort of book you read in one beguiling go. I can’t wait for Lane’s next.

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane (Orion, £12.99)


  1. This sounds wonderful – love the cover too. I really look forward to your Friday book posts.


    1. Thanks so much, Karen. That's really kind. I love doing the Friday book reviews so it's good to hear that you like them! My daughter's on Toute Allure now by the way and LOVING it!

  2. Great that you linked in, thanks. have a good one

  3. Beautiful cover and great post...thanks.

    Very nice blog...NEW FOLLOWER.

    Stopping by from Carole's October Books I Loved List.

    Silver's Reviews

  4. Just a note to let you know that your link in to Books You Loved: October was showcased in the November edition which has just posted. Would love to see another contribution from you this month! This is the link - Books You Loved November Edition

  5. Liked your review. You might be interested in my Q&A with Harriet Lane, just up on my website:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...