1988, Pencalenick, Cornwall.
At Seventeen, Jason wants much more from life than working at his father’s pub, and when fate, in the form of twins Daisy and Bea and their small circle of friends offers him a glimpse of another, more glamourous world, he’s determined to become a part of it. It’s Daisy who Jason is most entranced by, though. Everyone is: she’s the sun around which others orbit.
The trouble with the sun, of course, is that those who get too close risk getting burned – and by the end of the summer one of the group will be dead.
2018, Camberwell, London.
When famous actress Daisy Hemmings decides its time to publish her autobiography, she chooses James Tate to write it. James is a ghost writer: it’s his job to step into other people’s shoes, to tell their stories for them. And he’s good at it. Very good. After all he’s had years of practice at pretending to be someone he’s not.
But what happens when past and present – and truth and lies – collide?
Thank you to Emma at Book Break for the proof copy of The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings by Joanna Nadin. The cover appealed, it looked like a fun read and certainly was.
Told in two distinct time frames – 1988 and 2018. James is a ghost writer, living a charmed life, hiding in the shadows, but we swiftly learn that nothing about him is real, having forged a path to where he is based on smoke and mirrors. Approached to write the biography of Daisy Hemmings he seems hesitant, but is persuaded, meeting the beautiful and charismatic actress at her London home before vacationing with her in Cornwall where with close family and friends she is celebrating her 50th birthday.
30 years prior, 17 year old Jason is looking for a get out, with his mum deceased, living with his drunken and abusive father, there is little to keep him in the small corner of Cornwall which he has thus far called home. A group of affluent youths arrive for the August bank holiday weekend, celebrating a birthday and Jason latches on to them, smitten by Daisy but in awe of their entitled and debauched lifestyle.
Some books just appeal don’t they, the cover mainly I think but maybe the title too. The cover for me was the draw and frankly it is perfect – fitting flawlessly with the content! Told predominantly from the perspectives of James and Jason, we do also hear from Bea; Daisy’s identical but marginally less vibrant twin sister.
The characters are superb, Hal and Julian particularly epitomising white, privileged men, as youths and in middle age, repulsive in their entitlement. Daisy is appealing, her beauty and charisma transcending the written word. But like James, our main protagonist, there are lots of secrets and lies in this book and people not always being what they seem. I flew through this book, it is exactly my sort of book ( along with so many others), publishing on Thursday, I would urge you to pick up your copy and pop it into your suitcase before (hopefully) jetting off somewhere gorgeous.
Thank you again to the publisher for the proof copy and to you for reading!
About the Author
Joanna Nadin is a former broadcast journalist, Downing Street political adviser and government speechwriter, she is the author of over eighty books for children and teenagers, including the Flying Fergus series with Sir Chris Hoy, the bestselling Rachel Riley diaries, based on the author’s teenage years, and the Carnegie Medal nominated Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA winning BBC drama. She is also a lecturer on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings is her third novel for adults.