The beautiful cover of the hardback
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 14th February 2013 (paperback)
My favourite book of 2012, Tell The Wolves I’m Home, is out in paperback today so I thought I’d post the review I wrote for the lovely Lizzie over at These Little Words, as part of her ‘Best of 2012′ series, in December.
Set in the mid-1980s, Carol Rifka Brunt’s novel is a hauntingly gorgeous debut. When June’s uncle and best friend, the renowned but reclusive painter Finn Weiss, dies of a mysterious disease, she is devastated. In the early days of AIDS awareness, the stigma attached to it means that no-one will talk to June about Finn, and she cannot reveal why she is as upset as she is. When Finn’s partner Toby gets in touch with her and explains that he misses Finn as much as she does, she is prepared to hate him for occupying part of Finn’s heart that she had thought was all hers. As they get to know each other, she and Toby realise that Finn has been more cunning that they gave him credit for.
What makes the novel so fabulous is the quality of the writing. There are paragraphs that I had to read several times because the writing is so gorgeous, and June’s narrative voice is pitch-perfect. Insecure, baffled by her sister’s distance and somewhat isolated from her schoolmates, she thinks that she has hidden her greatest shame, her love for Finn, from everyone, not realising how obvious it was to those who mattered. She is self-aware enough to admit that there are less than altruistic motives to some of her actions, but at other times her naïvety is immensely touching. She is brave and imperfect and is my favourite ‘heroine’ since Cassandra Mortmain.
It’s been several months since I finished reading Tell the Wolves, and I still get emotional thinking about June, Toby and Finn. Carol Rifka Brunt has a beautiful way with words and a real knack for getting inside the heads of her characters, and I very much hope that she won’t make us wait too long for her next novel.
The equally lovely paperback cover
Huge thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of the book.