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Alys, Always: A Novel by Harriet Lane

Alys, Always: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Harriet Lane

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1941260,720 (3.67)43
Title:Alys, Always: A Novel
Authors:Harriet Lane
Info:Scribner (2012), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:london, car accident, grief, relationships, suspense, thriller, fiction, tpl

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Alys, Always by Harriet Lane (2012)



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Well, it's one way to get rich. ( )
  picardyrose | Feb 15, 2015 |
I received a copy of Alys, Always through the GoodReads First Reads program. It was an interesting read, following the protagonist Frances Thorpe as she is drawn into the lives of the Kytes following the death of its matriarch, Alys Kyte. Harriet Lane's prose can be lyrical yet precise; I look forward to her future novels.

While the secondary characters came across as predictable, lacking in the amount of character development compared to other characters, the protagonist was by far the most interesting. I'm not quite sure what to think of Frances by the end of the novel or her motives but the feeling went from sympathy to unsettling for me. Overall, I recommend this novel for those who enjoy a contemporary novel, family drama or a story featuring a rather mysterious, curious main character that will leave you guessing to the end.

My complete review of the novel was originally posted at caffeinatedlife.net (contains some major spoilers/highlighted in the text): http://www.caffeinatedlife.net/blog/2013/03/11/review-alys-always/ ( )
  caffeinatedlife | Sep 1, 2013 |
I really enjoyed the main character in this book, mostly because she was so calculating and real. It was a good read, especially because the characters could see through one another to some extent and they were very interesting people to uncover. I don't know that I'd read this one again - but I wouldn't warn people off of reading it either, so I guess that's a solid three stars from me. ( )
  millieanne | Jun 26, 2013 |
I found this extremely compelling. In fact I read it in one evening, well into the wee hours. It's a simple premise, which actually helps enormously with the plausibility, as you can really see every stage happening. The whole thing is carried off with SUCH aplomb and atmosphere that it's unputdownable. Very much looking forward to whatever Harriet Lane does next. ( )
  Melanielgarrett | Apr 2, 2013 |
This book started off strongly. The accident scene and the interaction between Alys and Frances was dramatic and immediately caught my attention. From then onward it failed to live up to my expectations. I wanted more from Frances. I wanted empathy and compassion. I wanted to like her but found her to be not very likeable. It’s hard to get into a book fully when you dislike the main character.

Sometimes honest and deep friendships are formed over tragic circumstances. That was not the case here. Frances happened to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a family during their time of grieving. Originally she wanted to put the accident behind her and have nothing to do with the victim’s family. Only after learning the identity of the family did she agree to meet them. Once she realized who they were and what they could do for her she seized this opportunity and used it to her advantage.

I kept reading because I wanted to find out what would happen to the Kytes and to Frances, how long would her new found status as part of the literary elite of England last? Would the Kytes grow tired of her or see through her act? The book kept me interested but there was something lacking. There was no connection between reader and the characters. None of the characters made any impact. I found them bland.

The book was written well. The language was very descriptive but lacking in emotional dept. It was a good time filler book but I was not the right audience for this book. If you are into books about women willing to use people and seize opportunities to further their career and social status then you’ll enjoy this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program. ( )
  Christine_Gail | Mar 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Written in the present tense, Lane’s breezy, lacerating first novel is less a cynical exercise than a deeply nostalgic one, a kind of blowing on the ember of the days when authors mattered enough to the culture to be valued as superficially as movie stars.
Alys, Always is not flawless; the ending is not quite believable (and yet, so surely is the character of Frances drawn that for some it will be entirely so) and Lane’s symbols at times groan, so freighted are they (the windows in Hampstead, where Alys’s family live, “are always cleaner – more reflective, more transparent – than the windows in my part of town”). Still, it’s a well-written story told with verve, so much so that Frances, unlikable as she is, becomes perversely compelling: You keep turning the pages, certainly – perhaps more absorbedly than you’d like to admit.
Harriet Lane's brilliant first novel is about a newspaper subeditor on the book pages, an "invisible production drone, always out in the slips, waiting to save people from their own mistakes"....t is a novel that will unsettle and make your heart dip, long after you have put it aside.
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A violet bed is budding near,
Wherein a lark has made her nest:
And the good they are, but not the best;
And dear they are, but not so dear.

-Christina Rossetti
For G.S.C.
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It's shortly after six o'clock in on a Sunday evening .
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Book description
On a bitter winter’s night, Frances Thorpe comes upon the aftermath of a car crash and, while comforting the dying driver, Alys Kyte, hears her final words. The wife of a celebrated novelist, Alys moved in rarefied circles, and when Frances agrees to meet the bereaved family, she glimpses a world entirely foreign to her: cultured, wealthy, and privileged. While slowly forging a friendship with Alys’s carelessly charismatic daughter, Frances finds her own life takes a dramatic turn, propelling her from an anonymous existence as an assistant editor for the books section of a newspaper to the dizzying heights of literary society.

Transfixing, insightful, and unsettling, Alys, Always drops us into the mind of an enigmatic young woman whose perspective on a glamorous world also shines a light on those on the outside who would risk all to become part of it.
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Comforting a dying car crash victim before being invited to meet the woman's privileged family, Frances is transformed through her friendships with two family members from an unknown editor to a sought-after figure in literary society.

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Average: (3.67)
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