Thursday, 5 August 2010

Without Alice by DJ Kirkby




I'm delighted to be part of Denyse Kirkby's blog tour for her debut novel, Without Alice. The blurb for Without Alice starts with these sentences, ‘Have you ever had a secret? One so important that it feels as if it will tear you in two?’ Well that caught me straight away, and there’s one thing for sure, Stephen really does have a secret.

I started reading this book when I’d already done seven hours editing, so my eyes were pretty sore, but I thought I’d have a peak and read the first page or two. I eventually stopped approximately half way through the book, simply because my eyes couldn’t keep going and it was 1am and I had to be up at 6.30am to go to work.

Without Alice begins with a prologue telling us about three different couples in July 1977, who are all at varying stages of parenthood. We then begin with Jennie having just given birth to her son, and almost straight away you realize that her relationship with husband, Stephen, isn’t a harmonious one. As much as he instinctively adores his baby son, he isn’t happy with Jennie. Stephen has a secret. It’s a big secret, and one that causes him heartache, as well as a crushing resentment towards his wife.

Stephen’s verbal cruelty to this new mother is vicious. Jennie has enough to contend with already. She’s exhausted, and trying to get to grips with the strangeness of her post-baby physique, as well as wanting to enjoy her first precious days, weeks, and months with her baby. The last thing she needs is to be made miserable by her husband.

As you read through the first half of the book, it’s hard to find much about Stephen to sympathize with, but as the reality of his secret is learnt you can’t help but want him to be okay. I’m still struck by that startling moment when the reader discovers more about his situation and gets to know Alice. I daren’t say too much about the story from this point, because I feel it would ruin the experience for the reader, but suffice to say, this was a truly memorable story and one that I won’t be able to forget in a hurry. I read the whole book in two sittings and simply couldn’t put it down, well, apart from having to sleep when I reached the half way mark.

It was only as I read this book that I realized how perfect (Like Bees to Honey Author) Caroline Smailes’s description was when she said, “Governed by duty, lost without love. A truly insightful narrative, controlled by a delicate hand.” So true. Congratulations, Denyse, this is an excellent read.

Publication day for Without Alice was 31st July and can be bought from the Punked Books Website. From 4th October Without Alice will be on general release and available from everywhere, but naturally I'm going to link to Play.com. Enjoy.

23 comments:

Queenie said...

Ooh, I think this will have to go on my TBR pile. Thanks for a really helpful review, Debs.

Diversity said...

I also couldnt put it down!

Kath said...

Tantalizing post about Denyse's book, Debs. What you told us was intriguing and you managed that without posting any spoilers, for which I thank you.

I have Without Alice lined up for next week's reading and am so looking forward to it, even more so now after having read your post.

Gran said...

This is on my "to acquire" list. Excellent!

DJ Kirkby said...

Debs, thank you SO much for this amazing review! I feel quite overwhelmed by it and keep reading it over and over.

Hi Queenie
Thank you for your interest in my debut novel.

Hi Diversity,
Thank you! Please help me spread the word about what autistic people can do :)

Hi kath
I'm always scared that therew ill be spoilers when I read book reviews too. I couldn't read any about Like Bees to Honey just in case it was ruined for me. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of WA!

Hi Gran
I know you're on facebook so why not join the Without Alice page? http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=158&post=653&uid=124731407561123#!/pages/Without-Alice-by-DJ-Kirkby/124731407561123
You'll get breaking news, event dates, info on competitions and so on. Everyone's welcome!

Gran said...

Thanks, D.J. I already have!!!! just checked, to make sure.

Talli Roland said...

It's a great book, isn't it? I really enjoyed it and can't wait to have DJ on my blog - Ive promised cake and wine!

Have a great weekend!

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Gran, that's fab!

Hi Talli,
Wine and cake...oh I can't wait :)

Debs said...

Thank you for all the wonderful comments. This is such a beautiful story, and I'm sure you'll all thoroughly enjoy reading it as much as I did. Well done, DJ.x

Karen said...

Fantastic review, looking forward to reading it :o)

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Debs, thanks again!

Hi Karen, thank you for your interest in Without Alice. I look forward to eharing what you thought of it. Please join the facebok page (link above, everyone is welcome).

Cathy said...

Great review Debs. I finished Without Alice yesterday and the story certainly kept my interest too.

Kaye Manro said...

This is fantastic, Debs. You do such a wonderful job. It's great that you are part of this tour!

(sorry I've been mia this summer-- I'm trying to get back into the loop and connect with everyone.)

Amanda said...

Brilliant review, Debs. I'm so looking forward to reading DJ's book!
x

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Cathy
I didn't know you'd bought a copy! Oh, and I'm so pleased that I caught your attention and kept it. Thank you.

Hi Amanda,
I'm looking forward to you reading Without Alice too :) You'll recognise the first bit of the prologue.

Liane Spicer said...

Enjoyed the review, Debs. Love stories where all is not as it seems at first glance. This sounds like something I'd like.

nitebyrd said...

I'm still at the point where I want to kick Stephen in the head! Just now meeting Alice so I hope I start to like Stephen soon. ;)

Carol said...

Brilliant review Debs!! I loved the book too....read it in one sitting (it made me cry...three times!!)

Anyone toying with the idea of getting this book don't hesitate...it's fab!

C x

Debs said...

Liane - I'm sure you'd love it, it's an excellent book, with a couple of great OMG moments.

nitebyrd - you will. I didn't think I could possibly like him at one point either.

carol - many thanks. I loved it too. x

Leigh Russell said...

Great review for a great book.

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Liane
Thanks for your interest. I'd love to know what you thought of Without Alice after you've read it. There is a dedicated facebook page set up for just that sort of thing. Please come join in the fun! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Without-Alice-by-DJ-Kirkby/124731407561123?v=photos&ref=sgm#!/pages/Without-Alice-by-DJ-Kirkby/124731407561123

Hi Nitebyrd
All those feelings you're experiencing are just perfect,and exactly what I was trying to do. You've been one of my readers since I first began writing Without Alice (back when it was 'the novel with no name') so it is amazing to know that you are reading the finsihed product. Please make sure to put a few posts up on the Without Alice facebook wall or discussion pages, so other readers know what you thought.

Hi Carol
Can I bring you everywhere with me as my own PR person? Esp to book signings?

Hi Leigh
Thank you so much, that is an incredible compliment coming from someone who writes as well as you do!

Flowerpot said...

Def one for the TBR pile - thanks Debs!

Debs said...

flowerpot - thanks. I'm sure you'll really enjoy it too.