Publication Date: 26 February 2016
Publisher: Little Island Books
Source: Review copy
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‘I would like to make things beautiful, but a tawdry and repulsive kind of beauty. A braver sort than people have from birth. Sexy zombies on a bicep. That sort of thing.’
Ces longs to be a tattoo artist and embroider skin with beautiful images. But for now she’s just trying to reach adulthood without falling apart.
A massive thank you to the publishers, Little Island Books, for sending me an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a full and honest review. This book was also featured on my Most Anticipated Releases of 2016 list .
Prior to reading this novel I had read Deirdre's Prim Improper, which is the first novel in a series about a young girl dealing with new friends, family life after the death of her mother and living with her father. Prim Improper was a million miles away from how Needlework read.
Needlework could be summed up in a single word as haunting. The novel stayed with me, I could not get it out of my head when I went to sleep at night and waking in the morning it was first instinct to reach over, grab it from my bedside table and continue reading. The novel left me with so much to think about and question after reading it. It is definitely a novel that will consume you, your thoughts and be all you think / talk about for a long time after finishing.
Needlework is a novel that deals with many issues such as abuse, family life, sex, self exploration and hopes. Deirdre Sullivan dealt with the tough issues in the novel with such precision, care and realism that it made me feel so strongly connected to Ces at times. Although I would not say that the novel makes for comfortable reading, I feel that the issues the author deals with are such real, tragic issues that deserve much more discussion in media.
The plot of the novel has a wonderful steady pace, it kept me entertained equally from beginning to end. The characters are all so very flawed, but I feel that this is what made them feel so real and memorable. I loved Ces, the way she thought and analysed things, the way she viewed the world. It was beautiful. She was such a strong character and I really enjoyed reading her narrative. The relationships between the characters were so real, raw and not sugar coated in anyway. Sullivan shows skill in her character writing as the relationships are not perfect, ideal or even positive at times but they are so realistic because like is not always filled with positive relationships.
I also really enjoyed reading about Ces wanting to be a tattoo artist. The way she would describe how natural it felt to draw and her longing to tattoo made me feel so inspired at how much she wanted this path and nothing else. I found it so empowering to read about her inner drive to pursue this and how desperately she wanted it. I also highly enjoyed the little pieces of information about tattoo history doted through out the novel, I felt they really added to the flow of the story and also to Ces' character.
Needlework is the kind of novel you walk away from wanting to return to. It is the kind of novel that will disturb you, connect with you and leave you thinking about for a very long time after turning the last page. The language and imagery used are so sharp and cutting, the story so harrowing and the protagonist so memorable. I can not express how deeply this novel impacted on me and I will never forget it.
Honestly recommend this novel so very much. Please pick it up, and if you do feel free to chat to me about it on twitter (@shannonbookworm) !