The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: A thriller that explores all kinds of love along the way. Gripping from the first page and beautifully written throughout.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444701050

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Karen is ending her university years and has her future mapped out. But then she meets Biba, who opens doors to a world she's never seen before, and to the type of intense friendship that she's never experienced either. As Karen embarks on this friendship, she collects all kinds of new experiences along the way. At the start of that summer, she could never have predicted just how indelible the mark left by the friendship would turn out to be.

The story moves seamlessly from the present day back to the summer when Karen and Biba first became friends. Biba is the kind of woman that most of us have met and that, I for one, would certainly take against immediately in real life. Taking a strong dislike to such a central character can be problematic for the reader, but in this case, it doesn't matter. Kelly portrays their burgeoning friendship, and Biba's magnetic personality, with so much depth and sensitivity, it simply becomes a portrait of a friendship formed instantly and intensely, in much the same way as a passionate love affair might occur.

As well as Biba and Karen, the book revolves round a small group of characters enjoying a summer of freedom. The sense of being young and free and having no obligations is beautifully demonstrated in a book that will take us all back to such times; or make us look forward to such a time again. The portrayal of the time is spot on; and for readers who are familiar with the areas of London in which the characters live, small details will bring this evocative tale to life even more.

All aspects of a great novel can be found here: the characters, the storyline, the universal experience. Kelly also masters the art of making an inanimate object a major character too. No detail is neglected; although there are characters that feature only for a short time, they are all designed to leave a lasting impression so that none of their significance can be underestimated.

The writing style overall is a real treat. Any aspiring novelists will recognise the experience of constantly jotting down little notes that one day might fit somewhere perfectly. This novel reads as if Kelly has kept track of all of such notes that she might have had, and has indeed fitted them perfectly to build and blend within her story.

Kelly's insight into human nature is also crucial; those small but incredibly significant moments where feelings cross lines to the point of no return are all described in so much detail that the reader feels completely immersed in the novel and all outside distractions are forgotten. It's a surprise when the story is over, as reading this book is an experience that goes far too quickly. However, it's a real joy to read a novel that satisfies so thoroughly and I can't wait to read Kelly's next offering.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

For another tale of summer friendship, take a look at Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead.

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Buy The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly at

Booklists.jpg The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly is in the Richard and Judy's Summer Reading List 2011.


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