By Caitríona Ní Chonaill
This was an absolute rollercoaster of a read, and I had seen it recommended so many times I had to see what the hype was about! June, a writer, is friends with a far more successful author friend Athena but has always been jealous of her success. Athena tragically dies in front of her, and June sees an opportunity to publish Athena’s unpublished book as her own. But will she be found out, and what will the book world make of her actions?
This was a read that will definitely stay with me, as the carefully crafted writing gave a suspenseful edge throughout the book. There was also a thread throughout the book of who the right person is to write a story, as the book June takes from Athena is about the Chinese labour corps in World War One, and whether a white woman is the right person to write a novel about that without it being her own people’s history. Also, given that June writes under a pen name, Juniper Song, which could be used to sound more Chinese, this is a question the reader is left to come to their own conclusion about.
The theme of authorial voice and ownership is also a recurring theme, as Athena’s wrote the first draft of the book, but June edited and added scenes, did a lot of research and made sure she was as educated as possible on the content in the book. The book is then a collaboration of their work, but who’s name should have been on the cover?
The book also gives a snapshot into the cutthroat world of book publishing, whether you are the book world’s darling or not and the effect that can have on sales, marketing, the advances a writer can get on their book and the cattiness that comes from those in the industry as a result.
This is an interesting look at ownership, authorial voices, and who the right person is to tell a story. A page-turner you must read in one sitting!