Book Review: The Confession by Jessie Burton

The Blurb:

One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.

Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .

My Rating: ★★★★

My Review: How lovely is this cover?

Before I even read the blurb I knew I wanted to possess this book. I didn’t really care what the book was about, I just needed this on my shelf. Thankfully, the book lived up to it’s beautiful cover.

Alternating between two separate timelines; 1980 and 2017; and told from the perspectives of three beautifully flawed and relatable characters – Elise, Connie and Rose; The Confession is a powerful story of the complexities of love and relationships. Depicting the intricacies of being a woman seeking her way in the world; beginning to forge her identity and learning to follow her own path; it provides an interesting and undeniably enjoyable reading experience.

Although I had a few issues with the pacing in the beginning; the sensation of being rushed and the story not having enough depth dissipated quickly and I found myself unable to put the book down. My need to find out the truth alongside Rose overriding my initial reservations.

I felt sharply how lost Rose was; stuck in a menial job, grappling with the end of a relationship, never really knowing her mother, Elise or any of the circumstances surrounding her disappearance. I felt saddened by how all of this affected Rose’s sense of identity and purpose; beginning instantly to root for her to find her way.

In the alternate timeline, I was struck by the intensity of Elise’s feelings for Connie; how quickly she fell under her spell and followed her to the other side of the world; to a place she was so unsure off; feeling like she didn’t fit in. Again the feeling of loss sent me reeling; with Elise living a fantasy, worshipping Connie and having no direction of her own. How much was she willing to sacrifice for love? And what was Connie’s motivation in drawing Elise into her orb – did she really love Elise or was she just a beautiful, young conquest?

Returning to 2017, I was puzzled by Rose’s relationship with her father, who, although he had raised her singlehandedly, seemed completely shut off to her. What was he hiding?

When he did finally ‘open up’ to his daughter, I was disheartened by his offering. With barely an explanation; he gave Rose two books belonging to her mother; forcing her to seek out the author, Connie, looking for her mother. With Rose masquerading as Laura Brown; personal assistant to Connie; forming a close bond with the author while secretly searching for a ‘confession’.

I loved the resulting relationship between Connie and Rose/Laura in contrast to Connie and Elise’s relationship of thirty years before. Not a fan of the younger Connie – seemingly detached, selfish and manipulative – it was apt to see Connie softened by age and tormented by guilt. The older, more vulnerable Connie, developing motherly tendencies towards Rose; offering her advice, comfort and ultimately confiding in her.

While the ending is not all wrapped up neatly; leaving some elements for the reader to surmise; The Confession is well worth the read. I highly recommend this one; giving it 4 stars.

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