Julia Crouch


"My personal opinion would be to put ‘Tarnished’ on your reading list. "


Peg has always felt a little different and yet is never sure why. Her mother died when she was six, her father simply disappeared and she was brought up by her grandparents and her obese, bedridden aunt in old world quirkiness. But she never developed the habit of asking questions.

At least, not until she met Loz, her straight-talking, psychotherapeutically literate girlfriend, who urges her to confront her demons. Not something that Peg has ever wanted to do and not shown any enthusiasm for, until suddenly her grandmother's health suffers a downturn and she must make some decisions.

As the skeletons begin tumbling out of the family closet and the full horror of the past begins to reveal itself, Peg starts to wonder whether her youthful lack of curiosity might not have been a good thing. Does she really want to know?

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From her first novel, 'Cuckoo', Julia Crouch grabbed my attention and has never let go. Whilst each book demonstrates originality, she is the total master of slowly unravelling a complex, twisted plot whist weaving it all into a marvellously suspenseful tale. 'Tarnished' is no exception and yet again a page turner is revealed in a dramatic flamboyance. The incongruous heroine of Peg; an almost mousy, issue ridden, Amazonian lesbian librarian seemingly from a sleepy seaside town, leads the way of realistic and intense characters who may or may not be what they seem. As she struggles to understand who she is and what she wants, she has to start trying to remember her past and deal with what she's finding out in the present day. Grandmother Doll and Aunty Jeanie have always been there and her memories are full of the life she shared with them but are they what they seem? As the truth starts to come out everything seems to unwind until the full depravity is revealed and she must decide what to do. Black humour mingles with pathos and interlaces with shock as events begin to unravel slowly at first before building the pace to a stunning climax. A book full of suspense that demonstrates the depravity human nature can be and the impossibility of some choices or the reasons for which they were made. My personal opinion would be to put 'Tarnished' on your reading list.

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