I was intrigued by the novel,’Glitterland’, after reading reviews on various sites and seeing the strong reactions it was causing, both loving and hating it especially the character called Darian ~ Beverley
Author: Alexis Hall
Rating: 4.5* overall. 4 of 5 stars from Caroline and 5 of 5 stars from Beverley
From the Publisher:
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
This is a glittery story about a glittery boy who falls in love and tries to mend a ‘ broken’ heart. It’s not often I read books set in England (don’t know why). Once you have worked out the Essex speak you will find this book hilarious and you will not stop laughing.
Darian Taylor lives with his Nan and wants to be a model. He wears so much fake tan he is generally orange. He loves his bling and his hair is quiffed to within an inch of its life. He calls everyone ‘babe’ and one of his favourite phrases is ‘janarwhatamean’. You could very easily think that he is not deep or clever but I would strongly disagree. I defy anyone not to fall in love with him.
Ash Winters is his complete opposite, he is a published author and has suffered with debilitating depression for years which included a suicide attempt and days on end when he couldn’t get himself out of bed. The authors writing really made you feel Ashs emotions as he struggled with such simple everyday tasks that made him panic and doubt himself. Ash is a character that could easily be disliked but I found myself with such sympathy for him…..until the wedding!
Ash is on a stag night which unusually for him he hasn’t managed to back out of when he first sees Darian dancing. When Darian looks him in the eye and says ‘I gotta say babes, you’re giving me sucha bedroom look’. Bingo! Ash has pulled for the night but even that has its complications when it comes down to getting dirty. Ash can’t let anyone see the scars on his arms…..too personal.
Darian slowly starts to integrate himself into Ashs life but all the time Ash tries to keep his mental illness out of the relationship. Their conversations are some of the funniest I have ever read. Dry and acerbic versus Essex slang. I was pleased the author didn’t give us a quick fix for Ashs illness. We got to see and feel what it was like to be put in a spin over simple things like buying groceries and then having to pull himself back together and act as though nothing was wrong.
All goes well until they attend a wedding together and Ash makes a terrible mistake. He feels embarrassed when confronted with introducing Darian to his friends and makes light of their relationship. For all the sparkle that surrounds Darian he is sensitive. Feeling hurt he leaves the wedding hoping for Ash to follow and apologise. Ash is stricken by what he has done but once again his insecurities take over and he doesn’t know how to resolve things.
Months pass before Ash can find the courage and conviction to seek Darian out. He realises he must not only apologise to his ‘glitter pirate’ for the awful things he said but be painfully honest about himself and get over the fear that Darian not only still wants him but can learn to live with his illness too. The there is the terrifying act of admitting his own feelings. For a man used to hiding everything this is the most difficult thing in the world.
I love Glitterland. The writing is just so readable and enjoyable. The Essex vernacular is most often commented on and it is a vital component and I found it a very entertaining one but Alexis Halls’s accurate portrayal of depression is inspired. The characters are fizzy and full of life but it is the innocent wisdom of Darian, which is just so adorable, it undercut any sense of intellectual fustiness. The Essex accent heightened his vulnerability and innocence for me and I loved the class observations, sometimes you have to be obvious to make the right impact. The references to Roland Barthes and Shakespeare appealed to my literary snob but we intellectual snobs are cut down to size by Darian’s pronunciation of ‘Barf’, which is as it should be. In conversation, I told Alexis Hall that the voice in my head, when reading Darian’s spoken narrative, reminded me of a gay reality ‘star’ here in the UK called ‘Rylan’ and he said, he had indeed based Darian on him. He had been horrified when one of the LGBTQ community in the UK commented in the press that Rylan was ‘too gay’. Alexis’s response, ‘as if you can be too gay!’ but he also discussed that you will never combat homophobia whilst gay men attack their own. So ‘Darian’ is Alexis Hall’s defence of Rylan. Glitterland made me feel fab-u-lous darling and for me was totes amaze-balls!
I would like to thank Riptide for providing Caroline with the eARC of this title in exchange for Caroline’s honest opinion. Beverley had a purchased copy.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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