Thursday, 2 July 2015

"Precocious" by Joanna Barnard.

I received a copy of this title from in return for an honest review...

A schoolgirl crush is almost a rite of passage.  An influential teacher.  A bright young girl.  A love of literature and a disdain for frivolity.  Fifteen year old Fiona Palmer idolises her English teacher, Henry Morgan, and he returns her unwavering attention.  A line is crossed, but just who is to blame?
Years later, Fiona, now married, bumps into her former teacher and the passion inside her is reignited almost at once.  Their past is not long becoming the present but can they stop it before someone gets hurt?  Can a precocious child and an enigmatic teacher work together with no sexual involvement?  Can a mutual respect for each other remain innocent? Does age really matter?  Joanna Barnard askes these questions, and more, within the pages of her debut novel.   It is a story of obsession, trust, honesty and betrayal.  A coming of age tale with a sting in its tale…

Although this is not an original idea, the concept of a teacher/pupil relationship is addressed in a slightly different way.  This time the narrator is a thirty year old, married woman, recalling her experiences as a fifteen year old student in love with her mentor.  She almost loves him before even setting eyes on him, as he is extremely popular with the students of the school.  In his twenties, handsome in an intelligent way, he is a bit of an enigma and this appeals very much to the unusual Fiona.   She is the stereo-typical, angst ridden teen, with dreams of becoming a writer and being different to her peers.  Mr. Morgan spots this trait, and plays on it.  However, Fiona is also very adept at playing the game of seduction.  Is it as simple as abuse of authority or does some blame lie with the ‘mature’ nature of Fiona?  The author divides the narrative between the two frames, fairly equally, with Fiona guiding us through past and present.  It becomes very obvious that she is not a nice person.  Not at all.  Neither is Henry.  They are well matched.  Both narcissists, both void of genuine emotion and neither having an ounce of compassion for anyone but themselves.  There are secrets, lies and hidden agendas from both ends.   Manipulation and desperation ooze from the pages of this novel and the writing is superb.   The detail within the story is finely tuned and the prose is delicate, yet simultaneously harsh.  There is however, a lot of repetition and it dragged on in places.  The ending was also a let-down for me, as once again, the precocious protagonist walks away unhindered and unharmed. 

Overall, a beautifully written book, with a clever character driven plot.  It was just lacking something, which I can’t put my finger on…

Precocious is published by Ebury Press and is available in hardback and ebook edition.
This book can be purchased with Free Worldwide Postage, from (also with 22% discount at time of posting review) via buy link below:

The ebook edition can be purchased via amazon

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