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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Debut
The book starts with Jonathan on the run from his family. It then jumps between Jonathan in the present day & the past, which builds up to the events he is currently hiding from.
It is beautifully written & very descriptive so you can really imagine the big house or the beach. The characters are well defined & built up & you grow to know them. I adored Theo. The book...
Published 21 months ago by Lorna

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story, just not well told
Apart from the final third, I found this rather a plodding book - self-indulgent and over long but with an intriguing underlying story. Narrated in the first person by Jonathan Anthony, it tells his story from childhood, beginning with his formative years in Evendon, the Welsh family estate near Carmarthen. With their father long dead, they are given free reign by their...
Published on 3 May 2013 by tallpete33


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!, 11 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
What a beautifully written book. McCarthy writes in a style reminiscent of Margaret Atwood. The simple and beautifully written prose weaves a tale of damaged souls. The figurative language expertly brings to life characters which are believable and lovable. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves stories where an authors paints majestically with words. I hope this isn't the last we hear from this début author who has clearly mastered her craft.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, moody and quite beautiful, 6 Nov. 2013
By 
Jood (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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Rural Wales is the setting for this beautifully written book - it is where Jonathan and Theo (Theodora), the two small Anthony children live with their mother, the beautiful widowed Alicia and an assortment of household staff. Alicia spends most of her time suffering from alcohol induced "headaches" and either shuts herself up in her room, or floats about the house in a daze. She makes it quite clear that she has no desire for the company of her own children......they are simply a nuisance to her. So eight year old Jonathan and seven year old Theo are left to their own devices, wandering the huge country house with its sprawling gardens full of wild places; Jonathan is very protective of Theo who seems to need more attention than most little girls. She's a needy, dreamy child, full of wonder, enthusiasm and empathy for everything around her.

One day Alicia (the children only ever call her by her name, never Mum or Mummy) is taken away in an ambulance and the children are left alone in the care of Miss Black, the nanny whom they despise, and Mrs Edwards, the colourful, but not particulalry efficient, cook. They are not told what has happened to their mother, or what will become of them, but eventually Eve, their wealthy grandmother, arrives from America and it becomes clear she is there to stay; Jonathan's and Theo's lives will never be the same. Alicia returns from her drying out spell but it is Eve who transforms the house into its former glory and insists on a more formal education for the children.

As Jonathan and Theo grow older, Eve's story about their missing father begins to sound more doubtful; as it begins to unravel tensions develop within their small circle.

The book moves effortlessly from one timeline to another, the writing, crisp and clear, evoking the atmosphere of the period, whether it be the 1988 or 2008. It is so beautifully descriptive but never over done, the characters so well drawn and believable, and the narrative flows so well....I had my nose stuck in this book for two days as I devoured every word. I honestly cannot fault this book.

This author knows how to write; I hope there is more from her in the future.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put it down., 25 April 2013
By 
Book Critic (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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It's been a long time since I finished a book in 3 days - certainly not a book as literary as this, with the thinnest of plots, but I found The Other Half of Me absolutely enthralling: at times, almost impossible to put down. Not a great deal happens, the plot is slight, but beautifully detailed and wonderfully told.
Brother and sister, Jonathan and Theo, grow up at Evendon, a lovely house by the sea, where money is abundant but love is absent. Their father is missing and presumed dead. Their mother is just a vague presence who floats through life with a drink in her hand. The locals and the household staff despise them. They have no friends, only each other.
Everything changes when their mother is hospitalised and their grandmother Eve arrives to take over the care of the house and the children. Eve Anthony is famous, glamorous, extremely rich. As the children grown up, the passage of their lives is made easy and smooth by their grandmother's money and seemingly endless list of influential contacts. Jon and Theo's future should be rosy, but of course, it isn't. Too many secrets, too many lies: it soon gradually becomes clear to Jonathan why his mother and her brother hate Eve. Theo, unable to hate, is slowly tipped into madness. From the start, you sense that she is doomed.
Eve admires Jonathan as a chip off her block, but is constantly exasperated by Theo - as was I. I'm sure we were meant to adore her as Jonathan does; to be charmed by her kind naïveté and helpless absent-mindedness, but I've known too many Theos and I couldn't love her, she is silly and childish and extremely annoying. I frequently wanted to slap her. Poor Jonathan constantly angsts - has he been unkind to Theo by asking her to grow up and take responsibility for her own life? I doubt if I could have been half so patient as Jonathan - or even Eve. Theo strikes me as someone who should be institutionalised for her own good and everyone else's sanity.
My irritation with Theo didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book - far from it, she was the spice of it, Jonathan and Eve alone would have been too solid a dish for my taste. And, as I seem to keep saying, not a great deal happens in TOH, but the tragic progress is deliciously compelling and the writing is gorgeous - poetic, but lightly done: only just short of perfect. I couldn't put the book down but dreaded its end. It's been a long, long time I was so absolutely absorbed in the world of a book as I was with Jonathan and Theo, Eve and Evendon.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully-written coming-of-age novel, 26 July 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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Opening in 2008 this tells the sad story of Jonathan Anthony and his relationships with the women in his life: his mysterious, energetic grandmother; his faded, cold mother; the elusive, beautiful Maria and, most of all, his luminous sister Theo. The blurb and some of the reviews which talk about menace, gothic and psychological suspense surprise me as this is, at heart, a coming-of-age story as Jonathan finally learns to understand himself and the pressures which have made him what he is, before he can move forward into the rest of his life.

We follow Jonathan from 1988 when he is eight and his sister Theo seven, to 2008, though the story and timeline isn't a linear one, and we do skip between the 2008 present and the past (1988, 2000, 2005).

My overall impression of this book is that it is a debut by a hugely promising author - but that it doesn't quite hang together with the emotional coherency for which it aims. Theo, in particular, is a brilliantly written character with her quirky vision of the world and her radiant personality which we know, with deep foreboding, rests on a kind of instability that just isn't sustainable. The childhood world, too, of the children is wonderfully evoked - though some of the practicalities like the estate in Wales with `maids' feels strangely out of time for 1988 (Did anyone have a job as a `maid' in 1988?).

Less successful is the characterisation of the other characters: the children's grandmother Eve, their mother Alicia, Jonathan's best friends Felix and Sebastian all feel oddly one-dimensional. And it's incredible that Jonathan doesn't simply put his famous family name into Google and get a potted history of his past far earlier.

So there are inconsistencies and failings in this book but, overall, it shows enormous promise in vision and beautiful writing - Morgan McCarthy is definitely someone that I'll watch out for and read again.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the story was moving, haunting, and quite beautifully written ..., 13 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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As I read The Other Half of Me, Morgan McCarthy's first novel, I heard echoes of many other stories. Stories of lives lived in grand country houses. Stories of troubled families harbouring dark secrets. Stories of privileged, but troubled, lives ... and yet, through all of that, I heard a new and distinctive story.

Jonathan and his younger sister, Theo, grew up in a mansion in the Welsh countryside. They were terribly isolated. Their father was absent. Their mother, Alicia, was remote. And their neighbours held them at arm's length. Only the staff - the housekeeper, the cook, the gardener - had any time for the children.

And so they clung to each other, and they ran wild.

Until their grandmother, socialite and hotel magnate, Eve Anthony, heard that something was amiss and came home to take charge of the situation. She was capable and she reassured her grandchildren, telling them stories that explained much about the past and their family situation.

Jonathan and Theo grew in different directions: he was practical and ambitious while she was needy and heedless of the consequences of her actions. The bond between them was strained.

Both began to question the gaps in Eve's stories, and to wonder if those stories were true at all. And if Eve wasn't telling the truth who was she trying to protect. Her grandchildren, her daughter, or herself?

Tragedy was inevitable. And the grief it caused might be too much to bear.

Morgan McCarthy tells her story beautifully. Her style is languid and lovely, her turn of phrase is charming, and she has a very nice way with a metaphor.

There is light and shade, and a lovely mixture of the mysterious and the elegiac.

She made a wise choice in appointing Jonathan as her narrator. He alone had the self-awareness and the momentum for the job, and I never doubted that I was seeing, hearing, understanding as he had. That meant a few details were missing, a few characters were less defined than they might have been, but that was the right choice, to hold the perspective.

The story moves slowly and there are long stretches when nothing happens, but the beauty of the writing, the wonderful evocation of the world that Jonathan moved through, the questions hanging in the air, all of that held me.

I worked out some of the answers, but not all of them.

The complex and changing relationship between brother and sister gave the story its heart and the ever-present sense of menace and foreboding gave it substance.

There were times when I felt that Morgan McCarthy was over-playing her hand. That the family was a little too wealthy, the Eve had done a little too much in a single lifetime, that Theo couldn't really be so desperately short of self-knowledge .... but the story still worked, because all of the emotions and the psychology rang true.

Now that I have reached the end I realise that the story was moving, haunting, and quite beautifully written.

That's a wonderful achievement for a first novel, and I am intrigued to read whatever else Morgan McCarthy may write in the future.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darkly sinister literary masterpiece., 17 Oct. 2012
By 
Karen Baxter (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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Jonathan and Theo were inseparable as they grew up in their ancestral family home, their mother Alicia has no time for her children and mainly leaves their care to the unemotional Mrs Williams who cannot help but show her dislike for the children. Alicia prefers to spend her time drinking and reading magazines whilst relaxing on the sofa. Their father has never been around so the children amuse themselves with fantasy games involving their imaginations, Jonathan and Theo are fairly content, why shouldn't they be ... they know no different.

The children's days follow the same pattern until their Grandmother Eve a renowned business woman arrives. She instantly takes Jonathan and Theo under her wing and tells them many stories about their family and family home. As the children grow older they start to question the truth behind what they have been told and as time goes on different and more sinister truths about their past emerge.

Morgan McCarthy has a beautiful writing style and her descriptive prose is elegant and evocative. Although 'The Other Half of Me' is not particularly fast paced it's slow burn style has a darkly sinister undertone.

A darkly Gothic debut and a literary masterpiece, 'The Other Half of Me' by Morgan McCarthy is a thoroughly enjoyable read, even more so as Carmarthen and its surrounding areas where the story is based is near where I live with my family.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 27 July 2013
By 
M. A. Coyle "Mark Coyle" (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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I read this book in one day, it's a book you get absorb in and forget about other things.

The story starts a bit slow but soon picks up the pace and evolves in to a great,intense read which will have you captivated until the end.

Great book for a lazy day on the beach or at home
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Half of Me, 21 May 2014
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The story is compelling with intriguing characters. The writing is beautiful. You travel with Jonathan as his life plays out before him from childhood to uneasy adult life.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written with engrossing characters - a real page-turner., 26 Aug. 2012
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
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I really enjoyed this story and once I got into it, I found it difficult to put down. Large parts of it are set in an area I know well - the historic Welsh town of Carmarthen, and Llansteffan, a coastal village with close links to legendary writer Dylan Thomas.

This book's one major flaw is that the opening chapter is difficult to get into; written in the first person, it is very clear that something truly devastating has happened to Jonathan Anthony - but what? At first, I put the book to one side and decided that I wasn't really bothered with finding out. Fortunately I persevered, because the tale that unfolded was intriguing, drawing in some well-formed characters.

Jonathan himself emerges as a flawed hero, recounting a difficult childhood amongst extraordinary privilege, desperately trying to protect his fragile and innocent sister Theo from herself. Their mother Alicia is a totally selfish, self-absorbed alcoholic, relying on staff to care for her children until her mother unexpectedly appears back on the scene.
Theo is both exasperating and likeable, befriending tramps who see her, rightly, as the softest touch for miles, completely unable to function in the working world and absolutely reliant on the powerful influence of her grandmother, the hotelier and former American politician, Eve Anthony, to land her jobs.

It becomes clear that there are dark secrets lurking in the background, but Eve flatly denies the existence of anything that might cloud the image she wishes to portray.
Theo constantly holds to the idea that her father is not dead, as she and Jonathan have been told...
Jonathan focuses on his studies and later his growing career in architecture, unable to form lasting relationships as his heart is with the remote and apparently unavailable Maria. The story works its way to the tragedy that left Jonathan in the state in which we first find him at the opening .. and then through this, to a more satisfying ending.

There are some minor flaws chiefly in the Welsh setting- the character of the Welsh housekeeper, Mrs Williams, is so stereotypical, a gossipy, 'look-you' type of woman and the local population is not portrayed sympathetically in general. The local pub with its unfriendly landlord is called Glas Dwr - Blue Water. Except that in Welsh it should be Dwr Glas, as adjective follows noun normally in the language... Morgan McCarthy clearly knows the Carmarthen area but doesn't appear to have engaged with it or with Welsh culture - which in essence, is true of her main characters too.

But that's a minor quibble and one that may not upset too many readers. I didn't let it blind me to a good story holding the promise of more good stories to come from this writer.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and classy, 25 May 2012
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This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
Morgan McCarthy is a classy writer. She captivated me with a simply beautiful mix of descriptive passages, touches of humour and great story telling. There's plenty of drama in this book, but it unfolds gently as you get to know and empathise with the main characters rather than hitting you over the head with it. This is literary fiction that is intelligent without trying to be clever. It just invites you to become immersed in the unusual world Jonathan and Theo inhabit and to end up caring deeply about their story.
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The Other Half of Me
The Other Half of Me by Morgan Mccarthy (Hardcover - 24 May 2012)
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