When a notebook arrives from their long dead mother Lotte sees this as a chance to bring the old Rune back from a darkness that has surrounded him for years. But after their abusive father tears it to shreds Lotte takes a big risk and goes out on her own trying to find the only people she knows can piece it back together, The Puzzle Women. What follows is a heart-breaking and heart-warming story of love, grief, and friendship that can tear down walls.
ED.PR cannot be thanked enough for sending me what is now easily one of my favourite reads of 2020, and probably ever. Anna Ellory created a perfect novel that encapsulates the fear of abuse, the love of those closest to you and the trust you sometimes need to put into strangers.
With new-ish authors I am always tentative as the first few published works are where they find their ground and establish their essence as a writer. As Ellory's second novel I expected some nips and tucks needed but I couldn't have been more wrong. I powered through the first hundred or so pages without even realising it. The story itself encircles you, draws you in without trying and when you take a breather you realise you are completely invested in the character's lives and need to know if they are okay by the end. Rune and Lotte were the perfect main character duo, with the narrative focusing on their current lives and their childhood experiences as well the reader is able to connect on a deep level that wouldn't have been possible without the flashbacks. Lotte is incredibly special, her Downs-syndrome is written perfectly and Ellory has done an excellent job of providing the embodiment of the phrase "I am not my Downs-symdrome".
My knowledge of the Berlin Wall and the surrounding political climate is extremely limited and whilst 'The Puzzle Women' is intertwined with these historical events it added depth to the narrative without distracting from it. Ellory is able to provide just enough detail to aid the reader in reading the situation without alienating them and it just created the perfect blend of fiction and fact.
Emotional stories are difficult for me to 100% connect with through the written word, I am a mostly visual responder and need visual cues to respond to most situations. Crying to a TV advert is what I'm known for, but crying over a book is difficult for me, but this was not difficult at all. 'The Puzzle Women' has such beautiful writing that you will only be drawn in automatically and never look back, the language is emotive and flows from page to page with ease. I am completely blown away at how Ellory's written word moved me to tears on multiple occasions in this novel.
Would I recommend it? Of course! My usual scene is dark and twisty thrillers but even I can appreciate a piece of art when I read it. 'The Puzzle Women' is the heart-warming novel everyone needs to read just to feel again in the mess that has been 2020.
The Puzzle Women by Anna Ellory is out now, published by Lake Union, priced £8.99 in paperback original.