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The Wych Elm Reviews

The Wych Elm by Tana French

The Wych Elm

Tana French

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Viking
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 21 Feb 2019
ISBN: 9780241379509

One night changes everything for Toby. He's always led a charmed life - until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family's ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins. But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

4 stars out of 5
Johanna Thomas-Corr
10 Feb 2019

"French offers a masterclass in unreliability"

French has managed to do something quite rare with her narrator. She has got under the skin of an arrogant but appealing man as he’s forced to check his privilege... The novel is not without its flaws. While Toby and Hugo are deftly drawn, the cousins don’t have the same vitality. I was also left with a few continuity questions: Toby doesn’t get much sympathy for his brain injury. But French offers a masterclass in unreliability; the final 30 pages are unbearably dark and twisty. The Wych Elm succeeds as both an absorbing entertainment and an audacious interrogation of privilege.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Stephen King
10 Oct 2018

"a things-go-bad story Thomas Hardy could have written in his prime"

...extraordinary new novel... Here’s a things-go-bad story Thomas Hardy could have written in his prime... her work — never dull to begin with — has gained a certain lively freshness... the book is lifted by French’s nervy, almost obsessive prose. To read a French novel... is to enter an O.C.D. world where madness seems very close... Is the novel perfect? Nope...  The prose, as fine as it is, as dense as it is, as obsessive as it is, remains in service to the story. This is good work by a good writer. For the reader, what luck.