Spangler, Rachel. “Full English”, Bywater Books, 2019.
The Price of Fame
A couple of years ago, I got an email from writer Rachel Spangler. She told me that she knew my nephew (always a good way to open a door) and that she had a new book coming out and asked if I would review it. I agreed knowing that her publisher, Bywater Books, prides itself on the wonderful writers that publish there. I have always had a good relationship with Bywater so I had no apprehensions about her book which was a delightful read. Since that point I am now notified when she has something new coming out and I can jump at the chance to get a review copy. I do not read a lot of lesbian fiction and that which I do read usually comes from Bywater so I have a general idea that I am getting some good literature. Since that first book by Spangler, this will be the fourth or the fifth of her that I am reviewing.
Emma Volant, a best-selling author has just been through a really rough divorce and feels she needs some time to herself. She runs away to England, to the seaside village of Amberwick, where she knows no one. She just wants nothing to be alone with her broken heart but that does not last. The locals learn that she is known all over the world. They come together to work out some kind of plan to draw her out with the hope that her celebrity status will help the village’s reputation to become something more than a holiday vacation spot. The locals were able to get their favorite bartender, Brogan, into the act.
Brogan McKay was Born and raised in Amberwick and lives a comfortable life by never overreaching. She is always satisfied with part-time jobs and short-term romances but that was until she met Emma. Brogan realizes Emma could easily destroy the controlled expectations she uses as protection. The two women are attracted to each other and become friends quickly. Yet they both agree that neither is ready for a loving relationship. They also are well aware that they can only fight their fears and desires for so long especially when the locals want them to fall in love and be together. There is a great deal of emotion in the story about getting a second chance to lover (that is a spoiler—just so you know).
For Emma, it has not been easy. Her ex-wife cheated on her and Emma still feels betrayed and she needs to find some kind of inner-strength that will help her cope. She knows that new challenges are coming her way and she wants to be prepared to deal with them. Living as a single woman will be new to her and it will be especially difficult for her to open herself to new surroundings and adventures. She sees that having Brogan by her side as a friend things will be easier but there is always the change that the two women could become more intimate and this will change everything. Emma begins to learn about her grandmother’s past and early life and what she learns can cause her to question her own past with its failures and future that is to come. She tries to understand how her life has changed, and she watches it changing again.
Spangler elevates the story which could have been dreadfully sad. It is through the beautiful prose and the well-drawn characters that this story comes alive. Whether or not we agree with it is insignificant—what is important is the good story and the way it is told.