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Book Review: Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Lizzy has a sister. She hasn't met her yet.

When the postman handed me a parcel with familiar writing on the label I wanted to stop what I was doing, tear open the envelope and then hide in a corner - but that didn't happen so I put the envelope down and vowed to start the book.

Wish I hadn't. Wish I had started it straight away because it sat on the shelf taunting me, crying out Look At Me. Each time I walked past it I clocked it and like speaking to a small child I muttered "soon, yes soon". I started reading Look At Me on a flight to Bordeaux at the end of November and I was transfixed, like a rabbit in headlights.

As with all good books I feel more in tune with the characters if they are believable and I kid you not these characters were! Lizzy lived with her father Julian and brother Ig in a boho set up following the death of their beloved wife and mother Margaret. Imagine finding out you have a younger sibling, Eunice, from a doomed relationship between your father and another woman, who your mother knew about and your father didn't tell you - that's unsettling at the very least.

As the plot unravels and I learnt more about the characters it became obvious that there were flaws in everyone. Two years after the death of her mother Lizzy was trying to keep everything the same, the clothes in the wardrobe were familiar and reassuring, then she found a letter from a stranger that was to change her life and those of everyone involved. When Lizzy and Ig met up with her they were not to know quite how much of an impact having her in their life would be, all too soon they realised their mistake. Whilst their father might be fond of Eunice there was unease from her half siblings that threatened their comfortable "coping" world. All Eunice wanted was to be liked, loved, welcomed and accepted but the manner in which she embroiled herself was sad and at times nauseating.

Try as I might I could not warm to Eunice. She was simpering and upset the outwardly happy balance between the 'coming to terms' family of 3. Her whole character and description of her decor was so annoying but as much as I couldn't bear a jot of her I did pity her. She was uncomfortable and didn't really fit in. She did not have a shared childhood history and was constantly trying to ingratiate herself into the seemingly comfortable set up. Like a child desperate to be noticed she did things she thought would help but she irritated the family - and me.

The dynamics of the family were changed dramatically as Eunice made an impression, with every swish of a duster saying Look At Me, challenging her estranged father and half siblings to move forward in a way they were not comfortable with, picking away at all they held so dear whilst dealing with grief and resentment. Then she was gone.

I thoroughly enjoyed Look At Me, I found it an easy and tense read. It's the kind of book that stays with you and makes you wonder about things, so I was interested to read this article in The Telegraph. Thank you Georgina Moore for sending me a copy and thank you and well done to Sarah Duguid for a great first novel and I wish you every success.

There's not long to go until Look At Me is publised by Tinder Press (25 February 2016).


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