Book Review · Books · Fiction · Life Experience · Personal · Psycological

All The Good Things by Clare Fisher (Book Review) #Penguin #Viking

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Sent to me by Penguin Viking in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: 01/06/17

Publisher: Penguin Viking

ISBN: 978-0241275757

Format: Hardback, 304pp

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5/5

Summed up in a word:
Human

First Impressions

All The Good Things is a must read for 2017. The message shared within is an important one. No one should be defined by one action, mistake or choice. When bad things happen, there is so much to take into consideration and Clare Fisher has set out to remind us not to judge and not to jump to any hasty conclusions. I was deeply moved by the subject matter and I was impressed to see CF writing meaningful fiction about some of the most relevant issues present in modern society. Viking have a lot of brilliant titles coming out in 2017, head over to their website to find out for yourself: www.penguin.co.uk

Book Synopsis

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?

Read more at https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/297012/all-the-good-things/#vqiFb7RpvLPLRLRF.99 (Official Viking Synopsis)

My Review

A relevant, emotional and moving fictional debut. Hats off to Clare Fisher for an unforgettable and important reading experience.

I still can’t really believe how much Clare Fisher has managed to accomplish with All The Good Things. Covered within are some of the most relevant issues we face in modern society such as mental health problems, judgement, depression (including post-natal) and life-changing mistakes. Clare Fisher acknowledges these issues and has crafted a narrative that urges us to remember that though bad things change us, they do not define us. Asking Beth to list all the good things about her life before (and in) prison forces the reader to consider the same about their own lives. No mater how small, we are all capable of purely good choices and behaviour.

All The Good Things is Clare Fisher’s debut novel and she has set the bar very high. An emotional and meaningful plot that is modern, refreshingly honest and, though surrounded by misery, fundamentally uplifting. A stand alone dramatic novel with a strong message that I am sure everyone can relate too. I try not to read too much drama based fiction as I can get overwhelmed by distressing plots, especially those that include children.

I found that CF choice to keep the darker elements quite vague until later in the plot made it easier to digest, so thank you for that. The main event here is Beth and her story, CF has chosen to format the narrative as a love letter from Beth to her baby. It is an explanation of events and the choices that Beth has made leading up to her imprisonment. ATGT is not long, it is short and striking. The pacing is consistent and its character driven plot was remarkable and memorable.

Beth is a complicated character that has had an erratic and jaded upbringing. With a mother who was unable to look after Beth due to mental health issues, young Beth was taken into care. A varied cast of individuals then entered her life and without proper emotional support, Beth had to learn about life her own way. The plot is split between Beth’s story leading up the unknown ‘bad thing’ and discussing her life with her prison therapist Erika. My favourite part about the book is the format in which it is presented. A letter to her child, trying to organise her thoughts and explain why things happened the way they did was the smartest and most meaningful way that CF could have gotten her message across.

All The Good Things is not a casual read. I didn’t pick it up just to flick through a few pages at a time. I was drawn in by CF’s potent message and I had to stay to find out if there was any chance of the two characters to be united at some point in the future like Beth and her mother never did. I recommend All The Good Things to readers who can appreciate difficult subject matter and see through it to the deeper meaning. The conflicts that young people face when left without guidance is difficult at the best of times and CF treats them with a lot of respect, whilst giving an honest view of how bad things can really get if left unchecked. My least favourite part about this book was definitely the ambiguity surrounding what Beth actually did. I understand that it was important to the plot but the feeling of dread was slightly overwhelming at times.

Overall I believe that All The Good Things is worth your time. I have given it a 5/5 star rating because it is an important novel that is relevant and modern. Its message can resonate with everyone and Clare Fisher has done a quality job with the subject matter. I was moved by the story and I could empathise with Beth. CF has a bright future in fiction and I look forward to experiencing some more of her work.

Pick up a copy of All The Good Things here: Penguin Viking/Amazon UK/Goodreads

Clare FisherAbout Clare Fisher

The Short Version: I write fiction, both long and short. My debut novel ALL THE GOOD THINGS will be published by Viking, Penguin UK in June 2017, followed shortly by my collection of very short fiction, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN with Influx Press. Born in 1987 in Tooting, south London, I now live in Leeds; my heart is stubbornly torn between the two cities. I’m represented by Zoe Waldie at Rogers, Coleridge and White.

The not-so-short version: My debut novel will be published in June 2017 by Viking, Penguin UK. It will also be published in Italy, Holland, Israel and Poland.

My short fiction has been published widely in print and online, including in anthologies from Siren Press, Cinnamon press Litro, Aesthetica, Annexe Magazine and Flight Press. I won second place in the 2015 Ilkley Literature Festival short story competition, and won the 2013 London Short Story Prize and Cinnamon Press writing award.

I’ve also taken part in collaborative projects; In 2014 I was Writer in Residence at the UK Young Artists Festival, where I met and was hugely inspired by artists in all sorts of other mediums. My forthcoming collection, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, began life as an ACE-funded commission for Leeds Light Night 2014, where I made a live art installation for the first time. worked as a satellite artist to Stevie Ronnie as part of the PH1 Residency project at the New Schoolhouse Gallery in York.

I run a monthly writer’s group in Leeds, WordLab, and do freelance editing, most recently with Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

I hold an MA (with Distinction) in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London and BA in Modern History from Oxford. I speak French, play the piano, run, swim and walk. I work at the strange and wonderful Square Chapel in Halifax.

“It honestly took my breath away, and reminded me what it’s like to become a reader for pleasures sake again – I was immersed in the world of her character’s. It was so refreshing to see the world I recognise on the page, three dimensional and uncompromising in tone. I have no doubt that we are in the presence of a great talent. Top notch storytelling, and a most deserving winner.” Courttia Newland, Spread the Word Writer’s Prize 2013 Judge and Editor of Edgeways Anthology

Find out more at: https://clarefisherwriter.com/

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6 thoughts on “All The Good Things by Clare Fisher (Book Review) #Penguin #Viking

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