Augusta Hope has never really felt like she belonged, especially not in her small, boring, English town. Too inquisitive for her down-to-earth parents, Augusta clings to the bond she has with her twin sister, Julia, despite them being complete opposites. Half a world away, Parfait is living the small African country of Burundi, dreaming of a better life for himself and his siblings, not all of whom have survived the horrific war that has torn apart his country. A terrible tragedy leaves Augusta even more lost than before, and she sets out on a journey to find out where it is she’s supposed to be.
None of us can ever imagine being someone else. Isn’t that why
being human is lonely? Because however many words there are in
a language, they never express the actual thing, the actual feeling,
the actual being ourselves?
I’ve been putting off reviewing The Other Half of Augusta Hope for a while. I didn’t know how to write it, or what to say, because, you guys, I LOVED THIS BOOK. Reviews are always harder when you adore a book, right? Anyway, I’ll do my best.
I actually first heard about The Other Half of Augusta Hope in November 2018, when I went to the Society of Young Publishers’ Autumn Conference and attended a talk on cover design. Claire Ward, a Creative Director at HarperCollins, was one of the panellists and showed us some preliminary designs for The Other Half of Augusta Hope‘s cover. It was kind of exciting to get a sneak peek into that process so already my interest was piqued by that experience. The final cover is so pretty – I’ve read an eARC but I’ve seen the beautiful gold-foiling on the hardback, and I’m definitely going to be buying a physical copy. I loved this book so much, it definitely needs a spot on my shelves.
On to the book itself. I don’t want to give too much away about the story because I personally went into it blind, not knowing anything, and I’m so glad I had no idea what was going to happen. Therefore I’ll keep this review as spoiler free as possible.
To begin with, the characters are fantastic in this story. Augusta is a little unusual but not so quirky that she seemed like a caricature. She felt so real to me, as did all the other characters. It seemed like she rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, particularly her parents, but you knew this was never Augusta’s intent and that her motivations were always good, which is what made her such an endearing protagonist. The relationship between Augusta and Julia was so touching; despite their differences and Augusta knowing that she was much less palatable than Julia, she never once resented her for that, and they always sought solace in each other. I loved how she interacted with Graham Cook, especially in spite of her father forbidding her to do so.
Parfait was also a wonderful character, and again, the sibling relationships within his storyline were so genuine and emotional. His unwavering determination and hope was so inspiring and I was rooting for his happiness every page of this book. I loved reading about his friendship with Victor, the priest, and with the friends he makes in Spain who encourage his pursuit of art, which is what eventually leads to his inevitable meeting with Augusta.
The pacing in Augusta Hope was perfect, and though the story wasn’t completely unpredictable, I was unsure of enough to keep me hooked and keen to know how things played out. The writing was also really engaging – told in first person and alternating between Augusta’s and Parfait’s points of view, I was able to really get inside their heads and really feel all their emotions, which was such a roller-coaster. There’s humour in this book, but it also deals with hope, grief, and forgiveness, and handles each of these so succinctly that it’s difficult not to have an emotional response to the book.
This book is going to stay with me for a very long time, and is definitely going to be one of the rare few that I actually reread. I really cannot recommend it enough, but I also recommend reading with tissues near to hand. With this absolutely beautiful debut from Joanna Glen, I’ll definitely be the first to pick up whatever she writes next.
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
The Other Half of Augusta Hope is out now.
*I received a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*