Title: The Confession (review copy)
Author: Jessie Burton
Genre/Themes: Dual Timeline, Drama, secrets, motherhood, friendship, femalehood
Blurb from Goodreads
One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .
The Confession is such a powerful novel. Not only does it have an incredible plot and interesting story… But the women.
These three main characters of Elise, Connie and Rose… I am floored!
These women are so incredibly authentic. They are each so unique and so vital. Their stories are incredibly relatable to any reader. They speak to the spiritual autonomy of women. These women each in their own ways are on the same path, that of learning to trust yourself first and foremost. Learning to not deny yourself the agency over your own life’s path.
The story unfurls over two timelines:
In the early 1980s we meet Elise. She starts the novel as a nineteen year old I believe, who meets and falls in love with an older woman Connie. Their individual life stories intermingle and blur together as we follow them to the glamorous Hollywood setting of that era. Connie, on the surface, seems more together. More confident. More sure of who she is. And we see how Elise develops in her shadow.
Meanwhile in 2017 we meet Rose. Rose is a thirty-something who is barely treading the waters of her life. Her career never came to fruition, she’s seemingly in a stagnant relationship with her boyfriend but mostly, she is just searching for her identity. Something to root her to the past and to the mother she never knew.
She finds herself taking a job caring for the ageing Connie as her father has only just revealed to her that Connie was somehow linked to her mother and might understand the reasons behind her mother’s disappearance.
Both timelines are incredible. I really can’t praise this book enough. The book perfectly alternates between the two and I never was sure where this book would end up. I was both gripped and surprised by the unraveling stories of these women and my heart was 100% invested in what happened to each of them.
I absolutely adored how unapologetically this book was written. What I mean is that no character was ever too perfect. Each character had beautiful flaws which only added to the feeling that these were living, breathing people.
As ever with a Jessie Burton novel the research was on point! She truly knows how to create authentic feeling set ups for her stories. I loved the bright, brashness of Hollywood in the 1980s and how that contrasted brilliantly with the quieter, suburban London setting of the modern era.
And because it’s Jessie Burton you are guaranteed a beautifully written book.
- Her prose is simply perfection.
- Her pacing glorious.
- Her writing is neither under- nor over-done.
She just seems to be a natural at making narratives ebb and flow in a way that truly makes reading a delight.
But above all else, the reason I love this book is its honesty to women. And the message that women’s voices and women’s lives belong to no one other than to each woman herself.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Pan Macmillan, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*