Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
I’d previously read and fallen in love with Alexis Hall’s various fantasy series, but hadn’t tried any of his contemporary books. Glitterland is about a super grumpy1 writer who has BPD/anxiety problems, many trust issues, and an inability to NOT cause trouble for himself or others. Somehow he stumbles across the sweetest (and somewhat ditzy) Essex model to ever walk the face of the earth, and they fall in love. Gradually, and with ASh denying everything along the way.
There is dialect! SO MUCH dialect. It takes a heap of a time to get used to, but it certainly does seem to capture the Essex accent (and slang) properly.2 At least, from what my totally American ears can tell from many years of watching British television.
Anyway, it’s a lovely book with much humor and empathy woven throughout. And wonderful characters! Ash is a huge butthead, but in the anti-hero kind of way where you hate what he does but still root for him to win. Darian is a total sweetheart and actually very emotionally intelligent, which means good things for Ash because he personally has the emotional intelligence of a mushroom.
They’re both kind of dodos, but I really enjoyed their book and I definitely want to read Alexis Hall’s other contemporary romances ASAP.
Read: July 7-8, 2015
Aftermath is like a coda to the book which basically just expands on the reunion scene (after Ash did a Bad Thing and Ruined Everything Forever). It’s short and cute and a bonbon of a short story. It probably could’ve gone into the actual book? Maybe as an epilogue or something? But then the pacing would’ve been wrecked, so I can see why it wasn’t. (And I think it was written later than the book, anyway.)
Read: August 16, 2015