Have you experienced a moment in your life when you’ve felt like a total misfit and, to fight that feeling, found comfort in something you hold dear – a person, a place or an object? Is it this comfort that, perhaps, makes it impossible for us to part with the things we love the most?
I’ve recently read Eleanor Ray’s magnificent debut – Everything is Beautiful – which is due to be published on February 4th, 2021 and am taking part in the blog tour leading up to the book’s release which stops today at Aquamarine Flavours.
When Amy Ashton’s world came crashing down eleven years ago, she started a collection. Just a little collection, a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.
Now, her house is overflowing with the objects she loves and soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery long buried, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?
This book is many things – mystery, romance, and (dare I say) a self-help. What they all have in common is a central character who, despite all her quirks and misgivings, is incredibly endearing.
Amy’s neighbours are convinced she has a serious hoarding problem and they keep looking for excuses to enter her home and prove themselves right. When all attempts fail, someone complains to the council who send a representative to check on her living conditions.
In the way events play out, you might think Amy is a lonely old cat lady, when in reality she is a young professional. With no other way to deal with her loss and betrayal, she has found solace in holding onto objects she believes she is rescuing from abandonment and protecting from heartbreak because, then, maybe, at least they’ll want to stick with her. Even though she seems reclusive, Amy is warm and friendly as long as no one intrudes into her life and, most importantly, into her home.
The plot takes a major turn when the little boys from next door trespass into her garden causing her carefully built sanctum to collapse, in turn opening up the wounds on her soul. Reeling from the damage, she is shocked to discover clues to a mystery she didn’t know existed, until now. Desperate to find answers, Amy gathers her courage to dig into her past and find out how and when exactly did things go wrong.
As the protagonist, she is eccentric and yet you find yourself rooting for her every step of the way, even willing to take up cudgels with the neighbours on her behalf. But there is Richard from next door, and his adorable boys, who, in extending a friendly hand toward Amy, set her on the path she knows she must take but is unable to bring herself to.
Amy’s story is as much a gripping thriller as it is a journey of self-discovery – of learning to prioritise yourself and to love yourself. Even more so, it is a beautifully uplifting story of the brightness of hope.
In an uncertain future, when you need something funny, inspiring and thought-provoking to get you up and moving, with a dash of mystery and romance thrown in as a bonus, this is the book you should seek. It is not just a story… it is an experience. It will warm your heart and soothe your soul like a mug of hot chocolate sipped under a cosy blanket.
About Photo: Honeysuckles are precious to Amy so I made a crepe paper version of the Honeysuckle flower and used a green bottle for a vase, just as Amy would.
About the Author: Eleanor Ray has an MA in English Literature from Edinburgh University and works in marketing. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
Eleanor was inspired to write Everything is Beautiful by the objects her toddler collects and treasures – twigs, empty water bottles and wilting daisies. She is currently working on her next novel.
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