disclosure: the item mentioned was received for the purpose of review
I’ve recently finished reading the new novel The Favour by Laura Vaughan which was published last week. We meet a young woman called Ada Howell who is trying to recapture the life she felt was taken from her as a teenager.
When Ada was thirteen her stepfather, who had been a successful author, died of cancer and her life changed. Her mother sold his large ancestral home in rural Wales, the only home that Ada had ever known and mother and daughter moved to a three bedroomed Edwardian terraced house in Brockley, London. Ada grew up believing the life she should have led had been stolen from her and as an eighteen-year-old, even her father’s reputation couldn’t help her secure a place at Oxford University as she had hoped.
She’s lost and rather resentful of her mother who is moving on with her life with a new partner. Ada’s rich godmother offers to fund an eight-week art history trip to Italy where she would get to spend time with eleven other young adults, all with considerably wealthy backgrounds. Ada is thrilled that she will finally get to mingle in the social circle she feels that she’s been deprived of. She aspires to be accepted by the group and reinvents herself to fit in with the young dilettantes.
We watch on as Ada tries to ingratiate herself within the group and to build friendships with those she sees as being the most sophisticated and privileged as the group tour around Rome, Venice and Florence. When one of the group dies at the end of trip party in Venice, Ada seizes her opportunity to offer a favour to a few of the group which in turn will secure her long term position within their company.
She is desperate to be one of them and accepted as a friend, but can she ever truly be part of their lives?
The book is written in two halves, the first leads up to The Favour and the second half deal with what happens after it as everyone returns to England. The American parents of the dead girl are eager to keep in touch with Ada and as the plot unfolds we see the fragile facade of Ada’s life fall apart. She can’t really keep up with the in-crowd. She doesn’t have the funds, even when her favour means that gifts are sent her way.
There are a number of twists and turns in the plot which leave you guessing until the end, but I didn’t find Ada a particularly likeable character. She’s incredibly flawed and it’s quite sad that she couldn’t be happy with the life she had really. The story is quite slow to start but it certainly builds and kept me interested to find out how the story would end and the final twist was certainly not what I was expecting.
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