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The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice

Monday, January 7, 2013

Publisher: Heron Books (an imprint of Quercus Books)
Format: Bound proof
Rating: 5/5

I absolutely adored The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp. Eva Rice’s The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is definitely one of my favourite books so I had high hopes for her latest novel and I was certainly not disappointed. Many thanks to The Reading Room and Quercus Books for sending me this wonderful novel.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp follows Tara from childhood to late teens. One of a large family of even larger characters, Tara’s ability to sing allows her to stand out a little from her siblings. Chance meetings and childhood friends come good means that Tara ends up in London with a blossoming singing career amidst the backdrop of the rock ‘n roll 50’s giving way to the swinging 60’s. Familiar faces- both real and fictitious- pepper Tara’s whirlwind seventeenth year, opening her eyes and heart to new experiences and new ideas.

Coming of age tales are ten a penny but very few are so rich and satisfying without being over the top, poignant without being contrived. I loved that Tara was so no-nonsense and true to herself without being a typical rebel. She was very much an ordinary girl thrown into an extraordinary situation. Well, at least it was extraordinary to us. When you are part of the now, you don’t ever realise history is being made.

Obviously, it helps that I really enjoy reading and watching films about this period of time- and don’t get me started on the music!- but I was really blown away by the fullness of this novel. There were many characters spanning all age groups but each felt fully formed and distinctive, which is not an easy feat.  Also, endings are often difficult and a little flat but the ‘Afterword’ was good- one that I wouldn’t mind happening to me and that’s what a good book is all about, no?

I’m not one for all these adaptations but I truly believe this would make an excellent mini series on BBC4 or something. I would watch it anyway. It would be a brilliant platform for fresh talent along with perhaps some more established actors in the older roles (Tom Hiddleston for Billy?).

I can’t even begin to delve into the themes of the story without giving anything away but I was genuinely moved by the building preservation storyline. In and around London we are constantly witnessing our colourful and eclectic heritage being bulldozed away in favour of these uniform boxes and it is heartbreaking. A chapter towards the end summed up all these feelings in an eloquent yet informative fashion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and no doubt it will join that very small list of books that I regularly re-read. 

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