Last year, shortly after I began my blog, I was lucky enough to read and review Arvon Alumni Emylia Hall’s debut novel – The Book of Summers. What followed was something of an obsession, in which I recommended the book to anyone who would listen, and quite probably more besides. I gave it to numerous friends and family as presents, and to this day still suggest it to anyone in need of a good book. Such was the impact of the novel that it also re-instilled my own love for writing and I later took part in an Arvon Writing Course – one in which I had the very same tutor as Emylia; the rather wonderful Patrick Neate.
And so it was, that just over a year after I read her first book, Emylia’s second – A Heart Bent Out of Shape – was mentioned on Twitter. After then pestering her publicist for many weeks, I was finally allowed a review copy to read, much to my delight.
The story follows Hadley, a university student, who has thus far lived an uneventful life, as she opts to spend a year abroad studying in the glittering Swiss city of Lausanne. Much like Hungary in her previous novel, Emylia lyrical description of the city brings Lausanne alive; making it as much of a character as Hadley and her friends as they explore the unknown streets of their new home.
Hadley quickly forms an intense friendship with the enigmatic and sophisticated Kristina, who swiftly becomes her closest ally. As secrets are shared, it soon becomes clear to Hadley that there is more to Kristina than meets they eye. And then: one snowy November night, a tragic accident takes place. And as Hadley tries to uncover what really happened on that fateful night, her picture-perfect year in Lausanne soon becomes one she’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons.
Further proof of Emylia Hall’s natural talent at story-telling, A Heart Bent out of Shape is a fantastic second novel from the author of my favourite debut of last year. Poignant, captivating and beautifully written, my only complaint is that I’ll have to wait another year for Emylia’s next installment.