Friday 29 May 2015


Book review: Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson

My edition: Paperback, published on 31 July 2014 by Coronet, 438 pages.

Description: Ben Lawrence seems to have it all - the hot job, the flashy car, the luxurious apartment. But one tragic day in his past mars his future. Since the events of that day he hasn't truly got close to anyone. He made a promise that love was the price he would pay for his mistakes.

When Effy Jones - a bright, ambitious charity founder - walks into the PR firm where Ben works, neither realise that their lives are about to be turned upside down.

Paper Swans tells of how love can conquer all, and how when everything is broken one person can help to put the pieces together...


Effy Jones is an ambitious young woman. Formerly she worked in the fashion industry, but recently she made her dream come true by setting up a charity to help the victims, children especially, of a major oil disaster in Africa. Her boyfriend finds it difficult to accept that Effy's priorities have shifted away from fashion and him and their relationship is on the edge of falling apart.

Ben Lawrence is a hotshot at a PR company. He's young, rich and very ambitious. He lives for his work and with a pay check to match he seems to have it all. But a traumatising event from his adolescence follows him wherever he goes and because of that he struggles to connect with people on more than just a superficial level. When his company chooses to sponsor Effy's charity and he is assigned to be her contact person, it seems this might finally change.

Paper Swans has one of the most eye-catching covers I've seen all year; the cheerful bright yellow really pops, making is not only stand out amongst a wealth of other books on my shelves but it also made me want to read the novel as soon as I got my hands on it. Props to the designer!

The story itself focuses in alternating chapters on Ben and Effy, first separately and later on at the same time as they start to get closer and their arcs intertwine. It was a very predictable set up of boy-meets-girl and their inevitable romantic entanglement, but this was more about the 'how' than the 'when' and while the ending was perhaps obvious from the first few chapters, the road to get there was a difficult one and very emotional - for the characters as well as the reader.

While I instantly loved Effy and her mission of doing good in the world, I found it more difficult to sympathise with Ben. All throughout the novel a horrible event from his past is alluded to which has shaped him as an emotionally distant adult who gets through life by keeping everyone at bay and drowning his sorrows in drink. The fact that despite the years of therapy and support from family he still focuses single-mindedly on how terrible his life is, made him come across as a weak and rather unsympathetic character.

While Ben's story of coming to terms with his past was dragged out and repetitive for the better part of the novel, I did came to like and understand him towards the end. However, it was the strong-willed and inspirational Effy who was the real star of this novel and rather than giving the two main characters almost equal amounts of page time, for me it would've worked better if the story had been told solely from her point of view.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:


Twitter: @Jthompsonauthor

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel through bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

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