Monday, 9 January 2017

Gilding The Lily by Justine John - Blog Tour Review and Q and A

Today I am very excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Gilding The Lily by Justine John. I am bringing my review of Gilding The Lily as well as an interview with Justine John. 

Gilding The Lily 

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees London-based Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, has guiltily never liked her father’s women, but does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wit’s end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them any answers. The ruthless truth is something no one expected…

This fast-paced psychological debut will keep you guessing until the very end.

My Review

I could not put this book down. I enjoyed Justine's writing so much, it is so easy to get into and is really engaging. 

The characters are all very relatable and realistic. I could vividly picture each character, even the ones who are only in the story for a short amount of time. I thought Amelia and Jack in particular were especially well rounded characters and their relationship felt very believable and was very sweet. Even though Evelyn was such a nasty character, I really enjoyed her and I think she really stood out to me.

Another relationship I thought was dealt with really well was the one between Amelia and her father Roger. You could feel the love between them even through the stuff that had happened over the years and you really felt for both of them that they had missed out on so much time due to circumstances beyond either one of their control. It was a very realistic relationship and one that probably a lot of people can see in their own families. 

The story is paced perfectly which kept me reading far later into the night than it should have done. I felt very much like it was a modern version of a classic psychological mystery story, think an Agatha Christie type of feeling but with a bigger setting of London and New York. 

A lot of the book is set in New York; I have visited New York and I thought that Justine has captured it perfectly in her writing, I recognised many of the places and I really felt like I was back there at times. 

The tag line of the book, is very, very true -  This fast-paced psychological debut will keep you guessing until the very end - The opening of the book is a funeral with someone thinking about what they have done but you don't know who or when this is. Throughout the book I must have had everyone as the person who was doing the thinking and when everything is realised it is such a brilliant reveal I was left open mouthed! 

Overall this is an excellent debut novel and I gave it 5 stars and I look forward to more from Justine John in the future. 

To Purchase A Copy Of Gilding The Lily from Amazon UK -

Q and A with Justine John

Gilding The Lily is a domestic noir suspense, what is it that draws you to this genre?

I believe that suspense is the thing that makes a book un-put-downable.  Its fine to create characters that come to life but the story has to have some suspense in it to draw the reader in and really want to know the them. I love to lose myself in a good novel, and they’re the ones that offer suspense – it’s what gets me turning the pages.  I get bored with non-fiction or auto-biographies.

When you're writing, do you have a set routine or schedule that you like to follow? 

Yes, I have to put aside a minimum of two and a maximum of four hours a day and I have an office in the garden where I can completely get away from outside life and distractions which is majorly important.  If I get distracted, then I get no writing done, so I have to be really serious and dedicated to that time.  Sometimes this is hard work, just the plain discipline, so I tend to reward myself, and set incentives – if I write 2000 words in my three hours allocated today, I will allow myself, I don’t know, an extra glass of wine, a long hot bath or a lie in or something!!  Something small and luxurious that I love doing – nothing that’s non-achievable though.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far? 

I love all my characters so far – they’re all their own people and sort of like friends.  I haven’t really got a favourite, but if I was forced to choose it would have to be Amelia because we have so much in common.

You have switched from the corporate world to the literary world, what was it that made you decide to make the change? 

I’ve always wanted to write and be a ‘writer’ seriously, so once I had the opportunity, it was an easy decision.  But actually seizing the opportunity itself was more difficult – I was at a stage where I was not enjoying my work and I became quite ill with endometriosis.  It became so bad that eventually I had to have a total hysterectomy, and I was written off work for eight weeks.  The other side of this coin was a blessing because I thought ‘this is my chance – all that time off – I can start a novel’.  So I did, almost immediately I was home from hospital and I didn’t go back work!  I’ve never looked back.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing? 

Either walking my two Dalmatians (DJ and Molly) or riding my horses (Enzo and Patrick).  I walk for miles each day – it’s beautiful where we live in the Surrey Hills. With both the horses I also compete regularly at show jumping.  We do quite well!

Gilding The Lily is set primarily in New York, was there a reason behind the location choice?

I know New York quite well because, like Amelia, my own father lived there for many years.  It’s a city where anything can happen and often does, and it just felt right to have what happened based there.  New York helps this story come alive.  Writing it seemed more real than anywhere else.

Did a lot of research go into writing Gilding The Lily, particularly around the DEA side of things?

My husband is an ex cop, like Jack, and I questioned him over and over again.  My step-son is a catholic priest and he checked over my dialogue in the Prologue.  I visited all the places I describe, and took notes and photos which I Blu-tacked up all over my office.  And good old Google was also extremely useful, of course!

Do you have a favourite author?

Not really – I go through phases of buying several books by an author that I like and then seem to find someone else after a while.  I loved the Bronte sisters in my youth, I had a ‘classics’ stage where I read as many classics as possible.  Then I got into Iian Banks after reading the Wasp Factory,  Ian McEwan,  Nicky Hornby and now it’s whatever takes my fancy from Lawrence Durrell to Dawn French, Jo Jo Moyes and Maggie O’Farrel.  I love Graham Greene and recently read The End of The Affair for the first time which I adored, and also The Paris Wife by Paul McLain.  Right now I am reading Something To Hide by Deborah Moggach which I’m really enjoying.

As well as writing your novel, you also write a blog, what was it that inspired you to set this up?

The blog is a way of putting things out and on paper that I write about when I’m not ‘really writing’.  It helps me practice and work out how to phrase things.   You know, thoughts and little ideas and gems that come to mind.  I use the Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook a lot for referencing and found my mentor via them.  They asked me to write about a blog about my journey as a debut author and I transferred this to my own blog and try hard to update it - I always have lots of good ideas for it, but don’t often find the time to do this, which is something I must address.

Gilding The Lily has not been out very long, but what can we look forward to from you next?

Yes, I have a plan for a prequel.  It will be the same genre, but I’m hoping to throw a bit more romance into the mix next time!

About The Author

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat
race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

To Connect With Justine John

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour

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