Source: Review Copy
Publication: 15 November 2018 UK Paperback from PenguinUK
I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’
Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.
The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .
Wow, what a book! Utterly mesmerising, completely propulsive and with a voice as stark and bleak as anything I have read.
Cordelia Russell is an astonishing character. She was born beautiful and in her daddy’s eyes she could do no wrong. She was the Queen of Inishcrann, or so he told her most days, though being Queen of a small island with a tiny population was perhaps not the most she could aspire to; but for now it was enough.
She knows she is special and that’s what drives her forward. From an early age she has learnt how to use what she has to get her own way and she does that with barely a thought for her impact on others. In short, Delia is cunning, manipulative, entirely without empathy and both shallow and narcissistic.
All the time I was reading the book I had the nature v. nurture argument rolling around in my head, but in the end I have had to conclude that perhaps some people are just born that way. Regardless, Delia is almost certainly a sociopath, if not a psychopath yet you can’t help feeling sad for her.
As she grows up, she is looked after by a range of people, most for reasons of human kindness, yet for Delia, these people are just a succession of opportunities to get what she wants.
Throughout the book there is an impending sense of disaster, it’s like watching an implosion in slow motion, and that’s where the real suspense lies. You know you want to look away; you’re sure you ought to look away, but you just can’t. Deeply affecting, horrifying and absolutely remorseless, Delia is a character who both compels and horrifies in equal measure.
This is really strong writing with more than one repellent character, but which nevertheless mesmerises the reader.
Verdict: A real triumph of prose writing that completely transfixes the reader and keeps you needing to read to the haunting and very fitting end.
N.B. This is a reprise of the review I published on Live and Deadly in April 2018
About Liz Nugent
Liz was born in Dublin, where she now lives with her husband, musician and sound engineer Richard McCullough.
Liz first began to write for broadcast in 2003. Between 2003 and 2013, she worked as a Story Associate on the popular television soap opera Fair City. She had several pieces accepted for Sunday Miscellany, a radio series on RTE Radio 1 specialising in nostalgic autobiographical writing.
Subsequently, she had two children’s stories accepted by the Fiction 15 series for the same broadcaster.
In 2006, her first short story for adults, Alice, was shortlisted for the Francis McManus Short Story Prize.
Liz went on to write a children’s animation series called The Resistors for TG4. Her half-hour drama, The Appointment was one of four winners chosen to be broadcast live on TG4 in the Seomra Sé series.
Liz’s radio drama, Appearances, represented Ireland at the New York Festivals in 2008.
She was the winner of an EATC bursary and writing workshops in Geneva and Berlin for pilot episode of drama series Campus in 2007.
Liz’s first novel Unravelling Oliver was published to critical and popular acclaim in Ireland in March 2014. It quickly became a firm favourite with book clubs and reader’s groups. In November of that year, it went on to win the Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards and was long listed for the International Dublin Literature Prize 2016. She was also the winner of the inaugural Jack Harte Bursary provided by the Irish Writers Centre and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Dec 2014.
Her second novel, Lying in Wait, was released in July 2016. It went straight to number 1 in the Irish Bestseller lists, remaining there for nine weeks and spent eight months in the top ten.
In September 2016, Liz was awarded the Ireland Funds Monaco bursary and went to Monaco for a month to write in the Princess Grace Irish library.
In November 2016, Lying in Wait won the RTE Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice Award at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. The book was also shortlisted in the Crime Fiction category. It has been long listed for the Dublin International Literary Award 2018.
Lying in Wait was chosen as part of the Spring 2017 list for the very prestigious Richard & Judy Book Club in the UK.
Liz was honoured to win the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year award in Literature in October 2017.
Aside from writing, Liz has led workshops in writing drama for broadcast, she has produced and managed literary salons, interviewed other writers and curated the literary strand of Skibbereen Arts Festival in July 2016.
You can follow Liz on @lizzienugent
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