Wednesday, 27 January 2016


5 GOLD stars

Contemporary drama ~ psychological ~ music

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

I read Mary Rowen's other novel, Living By Ear, about a year ago and liked it very much indeed, but hadn't got round to reading this as I knew it centred round a woman's struggle with bulimia, not a subject in which I have much interest.  Then I decided to give it a go - and I'm so glad I did.  It's nothing like the serious, emotional drama I expected.  Yes, of course it centres around this eating disorder, but the story's about so much more; Erin Reardon's bulimia is only one element of her bizarre, chaotic life.  Whether it is a symptom or the cause of the all the problems, it may be up to the reader to decide (or maybe Mary Rowen knows best of all).

'A novel of obsession and music' ~ lots of music.  Great to read about the rock stars and songs of my younger days (and yes, I agree, Erin, Station to Station was totally Bowie's best album, and the title track one of his best five ever).  It's about college, loneliness, growing up and feeling fat, ugly, isolated and wanting to impress, sex, delusion and obsession.  Lots of obsession, too.  The younger Erin lives in a cloud of serious erotomania with an ever changing cast of targets: her friend Colin (who's engaged to her friend Suzanne), rock star Lenny Weir, Jim Morrisson, David Bowie ~ and don't forget Elvis Costello...  She tries to blot out her loneliness with music, alcohol, and the endless cycle of junk food bingeing and purging.

The books alternates between the past, starting in Erin's mid teens in 1978 then moving onto her college days, and later chapters that take place when she's aged 28-30.  Although the subject of the novel is no laughing matter, it's often funny, in a dark sort of way, and there are some brilliant side characters: her boss and casual sex partner Salon Don, ghastly college friend Toni, and her mixed up, lonely mother.  I loathe the word 'quirky', but it's the best one I can think of to describe it.  It reminds me a bit of Catcher in the Rye, a bit of Alex Garland's The Beach ... I haven't read anything quite like it before, it's very unusual, different, and fabulously well written ~ Mary Rowen has talent oozing from her fingers!

Life changes for Erin after Elvis Costello, and again when she hitches a lift with a man called Luke ... there's a brilliant twist near the end that I didn't guess at all, very skillfully done indeed.

Loved it :) 

ps: Mary, I've had 'TVC15' playing in my head ever since I read it....

Living By Ear by Mary Rowen reviewed HERE 


  1. It's good to see a difficult subject being treated with such dark humour. Sounds like a novel of our time.

  2. Marilyn, it ticked every box for me. Mary Rowen is now officially one of my favourites :)

  3. Terry, I'm so thrilled that you liked LTB, and can't thank you enough for this killer review. As you can probably tell, there's a lot of me in Erin, so writing it was easy at times, while not so easy at others. Thank you again! This review makes my day, week, and month!

    1. Thank YOU for writing such a great book - and I did wonder about you and Erin... made me even more sure we'd get along great in real life, ha ha! I'm still thinking about the book. You're a seriously terrific writer :)

  4. Sounds fabulous - thanks for the review, will download a sample now! and Station to Station was definitely Bowie's best :)

    1. Oh that's great, Alison - I love it when that happens! I just KNOW you'll love it - she's a proper good writer, like ;)

      So glad you agree re S to S - such things are important!