When Jonathan Anthony and his sister Theo were children they spent their lives in unconventional simplicity at their family estate, Evendon, while their perpetually distant, hard-drinking mother Alicia retreated further and further into an unfamiliar oblivion. Left relatively alone and raised by a nanny, Jonathan and Theo watched the servants of the house come and go, some not staying long enough for the children to even know their names. Theo, an uncommonly sensitive and imaginative girl, lives blissfully in her imagination while Jonathan observes life from a more objective, administrative perspective. When Alicia’s situation escalates, their grandmother Eve returns from a long absence in America, determined to remedy the troubles in the Anthony house. Eve Anthony is a woman of wealth, glamour, and significant fame, catapulting the family into the eye of the media as a result, and her homecoming brings with it a shift in the lives of Jonathan and Theo. Whether the change is for the better or the worse eventually comes into question when, as the siblings grow into young adults, secrets and betrayals from their family’s past hurtle them into a new understanding of how everything simple can be lost in a moment.
Melding enigmatic characters with intelligent prose, The Other Half of Me is an enchanting, lyrical debut from an exciting new literary talent. The raw nature of the Welsh countryside and the formidable structure of the Evendon estate offer a unique backdrop for the setting, full of moody intrigue and languid drama. McCarthy’s detailed writing talent creates the perfect foundation for Jonathan’s narrative, which is a reflective journey to understanding oneself. Jonathan accounts his youth, his admiration of Eve, and his dedication to his young sister, examining the challenges that their lives inflict on each other and eventually coming to terms with the things he cannot change. The result is a deeply emotional work hidden beneath a pace that reflects the quietude and simplicity of the story’s setting. Theo Anthony, as well, took on a larger than life scope for me throughout the book; I related to her and felt connected to the eccentricities that set her apart from Jonathan’s real-world objectivity. In Theo it felt as though McCarthy had created a character born of the strict ideals of the modern world, and flaunted her passionately against them. Her depiction of Theo through Jonathan’s narratives feels much like a tribute to the freedom of a young girl’s dreams.
In all, The Other Half of Me is a moving and vivid piece of fiction that is sure to delight readers who enjoy unhurried, precisely-detailed sojourns into literature; a starkly original novel that captures elements of Atonement and presents the traditional subject of family in a new, unexpected way. It marries mystery with the quiet observation of family, friendship and love, and offers them all in beautiful prose, with a cast of characters that will maintain a presence in the lives of readers long after the final page.
Title: The Other Half of Me
Author: Morgan McCarthy
Genre: contemporary, literary fiction, mystery
Publisher: Free Press
Release date: September 4, 2012
Provided by: Free Press (C/O)
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Connect with the author: Official Publisher Page | Twitter
Disclosure: I was provided with access to a free advanced reader’s copy of this book for the purpose of review.