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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and thoughtful
I thought this was an excellent book - very readable, extremely atmospheric, insightful and memorable. The book begins with the discovery of a body and the circumstances of how it came to be there gradually emerge in an extremely well-told story. It is not a detective story of any kind, but is concerned with the lives of the narrator and two of her school friends and how...
Published on 24 Feb. 2011 by Sid Nuncius

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In the cold light of day, it kind of let me down.
Writing this review is one of the hardest I think I have had to do. On the one hand, it is dark, funny and in some ways quite clever. On the other, it has left me underwhelmed. Having read Ashworth's debut novel, A KIND OF INTIMACY, I came to this book with high expectations. However, having now finished it, I have to say that I feel somewhat disappointed. As another...
Published on 14 Jun. 2011 by Brida


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In the cold light of day, it kind of let me down., 14 Jun. 2011
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
Writing this review is one of the hardest I think I have had to do. On the one hand, it is dark, funny and in some ways quite clever. On the other, it has left me underwhelmed. Having read Ashworth's debut novel, A KIND OF INTIMACY, I came to this book with high expectations. However, having now finished it, I have to say that I feel somewhat disappointed. As another reviewer has said, I won't bother giving you a run-down of the plot; the inside flap tells you all that you need to know, and although you read along thinking that there is going to be a twist of some kind, the twist, when it comes, is quite minimal. But that, for me, is not the main problem with this book.

Personally, I felt that the book was not as engaging as A KIND OF INTIMACY. Although from ealry on you could guess the outcome of each of these novels, with A KIND OF INTIMACY, getting to the end was still a satisfying pursuit. Altough the character wasn't exactly likeable in some ways, you were still drawn to her life, watching as her obsession with her neighbour grew. But, with COLD LIGHT, the only thing which made me carry on reading was the expected promise of a clever, shocking plot twist. The twist that doesn't really come.

COLD LIGHT is a chillingly dark, claustrophobic read. Although I think Ashworth manages to pull this genre off well, this particular one left me expecting more. She is still an author I will keep an eye on, and read her next offering, but unfortunately I cannot recommend this book as highly as I did her debut.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and thoughtful, 24 Feb. 2011
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
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I thought this was an excellent book - very readable, extremely atmospheric, insightful and memorable. The book begins with the discovery of a body and the circumstances of how it came to be there gradually emerge in an extremely well-told story. It is not a detective story of any kind, but is concerned with the lives of the narrator and two of her school friends and how they came to be involved in the story. It switches easily between the present day and descriptions of events when they were all thirteen in 1997, and I found myself gripped and enthralled throughout.

I don't want to give away any plot details, but I found the story very plausible and the characters extremely well drawn. Jenn Ashworth is excellent at evoking the relationships between teenagers, and I thought truly brilliant in showing the life of a child in a family with a father with mental health problems. The atmosphere of a small City (never named, but with a striking resemblance to Preston) also seemed completely real to me, having spent my teenage years in a comparable city. The book has important things to say about teenage life, families and the effect of guilt both real and imagined, and is also very acute about the public and media response to tragedy.

My one reservation about this book is that I am not sure that someone of the background and education given to the narrator would be able to write so well or make such penetrating observations, but the book was easily good enough to make this seem irrelevant. It's very good indeed and recommended very warmly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult second novel, 7 Aug. 2012
By 
Lois Yorke (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cold Light (Paperback)
Having greatly enjoyed Jenn Ashworth's first novel, I was very much looking forward to reading this.

However,I was disappointed by it. It started well, but the ending was massively underwhelming; almost as if she wasn't quite sure how to end it.

On the plus side, the writing is good, the setting realistic if grim, and the three central girl characters are well drawn. It is a rather dark and in some ways unsettling tale, but I like the fact that this author does not draw back from writing about fairly unlikeable (but interesting) characters. That's all good.

But the plot is somewhat thin and the action is slow. I could buy that, if the ending came with a huge thunmp, that makes you think "What? I never saw that coming!" - but sadly it doesn't. It just...peters out.

I think Jenn Ashworth is a talented writer, and I would read another book by her. I just can't enthuse about this, I'm afraid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'I was fourteen. She was my best friend.', 2 Sept. 2011
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
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A dark, bleak, tragic tale of three fourteen-year-old girls in a northern town in the late nineties, with them delving into the adult world and getting hurt and damaged. There is a flasher around, and girls in the town are on their guard. Laura, known as Lola as a teenager, values her friendship with Chloe, despite it's difficulties, because she now has someone to hang out with, someone she likes being in the company of. But when Chloe starts seeing Carl, in his late twenties, and when she also becomes more friendly with another girl at school, Emma, Laura experiences jealousy and wishes things could be like they were before. Laura is the first person narrator and so it's through her eyes that we see everything, and it's her thoughts that we are privy to. Thoughts about her schooldays, her life at the time all the things happen involving Chloe, Carl, Emma and herself, her relationship with her mother and father, and her thoughts now, in her twenties, looking back on that period of her life, as a new event occurs that relates to that time in her past.

Despite the grim premise and storyline, and the undisputedly sad turn of affairs, this is an intriguing read and I found it compelling. It is tense and atmospheric, and I was very drawn in by the voice of Laura narrating the story. I had to know what had happened. It's a clever novel with all-too-true observations about how teenage girls are still young girls with immaturities and naiveties on the one hand, but on the other they are creeping ever closer to the adult world, discovering the disappointments and realities of life, trying alcohol and sex, and the line between the two worlds of adolescence and adulthood becomes blurred like here, where their experiences tip over into that adult world and they find it can be a very dark, cruel place. It's also about how someone can affect the lives of others, whether knowingly or unknowingly. I love the author's writing style, and I think I liked this novel even more than her first, A Kind of Intimacy. Looking forward to her next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars better, 15 May 2012
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This review is from: Cold Light (Paperback)
This is better than the first book, in particular the three protagonists who are an improvement on the earlier obnoxious narrator.It's definitely a Preston novel, featuring the Bus Station, Broadgate, Penwortham Hill, Cuerden Valley and Lower Penwortham with the bridge to Miller and Avenham parks. From the directions and the adjacent leisure centre the school would seem to be Penwortham Priory High. However, overall, the book does not quite gel or convince. The over-fussy punctuation (the semi-colons, all the dashes which are sometimes combined with colons) seems to undermine the shock value of the more radical content -- moody asocial teenage girls, flashers, under-age sex and the weird deaths of the mentally deficient. The shopping centre cleaner/school drop out narrator uses words like whorl/pointillism/topography, makes references to Jane Eyre and muses pretentiously on the present tense which "is full of possibilities" (292)! The language register needs to be more consistent. Still, a small step on the road to the Great Preston Novel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing style, slow plot, 22 July 2012
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This review is from: Cold Light (Paperback)
Laura is a lonely young woman with a past and not much else going on in her life and we are taken back ten years to re-live the weeks before the high profile death of her teenage school friend Chloe.

Jenn Ashworth is an excellent scene setter - the attention to detail and observations in her writing style are outstanding. But this is more a book about Laura herself than a fast paced thriller and there's just not that much going on in places. I found that her awkward life with her retired parents was way too heavily featured and didn`t really add much to the plot and the hero worshipping of Chloe ten years on from the local community was overblown and unrealistic.

Loved the writing style, but didn't really enjoy the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Absorbing, 10 April 2011
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Amazon Customer - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
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This is one of those exquisite reads where the plot becomes almost incidental to the people whose lives one is drawn into. Most people can probably identify with the depiction of uneven teenage friendships and the naive cruelty that occurs and the story is told convincingly from the perspective of a girl in the thrall of the 14-year-old alpha female. Although the story is dark, the prose is light and crisp and the characters come alive.

This is another of those novels where excellent writing and gentle observation of people is disguised under the auspices of a thriller. Jenn Ashworth managed to sustain a well-balanced and coherent storyline through to the finale. Although I tend to be hypercritical, I could not fault this novel, which drew me into a compelling tale to the extent that I read it in a couple of days whereas even books I enjoy can hang around for a week or more.

Full of pathos and terribly sad without being brooding, this is a very human and haunting tale handled with a very light and sensitive touch. For me, this counts as one of the most memorable reads over the last couple of years and I am ordering Jenn's other novel (A Kind of Intimacy) to see if she has been able to maintain this level of writing.

My reading history is littered with novels that I give up on part way through or find the experience of reading like walking through treacle or feel cheated when I have finished. Finding a novel like this makes the search worthwhile.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) (More) sex and murder amongst teenagers, 3 July 2011
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed Ashworth's A Kind of Intimacy which has real originality and freshness. This book is well-executed, well-crafted, and well-written with a dark humour - but just feels a little `done-before' to me.

A dead body is dug up and 24 year old Lola is thrown back to the year she was 14 when her best friend Chloe and Chloe's older boyfriend Carl drowned in a supposed suicide pact. It was the same year that a `flasher' was accosting teenage girls, and when Lola and Chloe's friendship was disrupted by the arrival of Emma.

Split between a `then' and `now' narrative, this captures well the insecurity of teenage girls manifested as spurious confidence, that age when they're no longer children but are not yet adults, whatever they might think.

I guess my problem with the book is the melodramatic centre of the plot which feels like it's been, literally, done to death - there are just too many books out there which reveal perverse sexual secrets and hidden murders beneath the surface of `ordinary' lives.

So this is actually a very good example of what has become a genre and if you like this kind of book then you'll probably love this one. I felt, however, that I'd read it before: although well-written and crafted, it lacks the inventiveness and sheer narrative power of Ashworth's previous work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing family tale, 20 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
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This is the story of three 14 year old girls as they grow up. They have all the normal problems encountered by teenagers and quite a bit more too. There is mystery, murder, abuse of children, love and mental heath issues. All issues are dealt with sensitively and well in a very good plot. The characters are well portrayed and show that the author has a good understanding of the ways of teenagers and their parents/teachers. All characters were totally believable. Why then did I give only 3 stars? The main issue with this book was that although the author frequently altered the time zone between past and present I found this was done clumsily and I often back tracked to see if I had missed anything before I realised that this was happening. I admit I like stories that go from A to B and then C but can usually cope with flashbacks quite well in this case the story didn't flow easily so I struggled at times. Overall however this was a good book and I should think anyone who likes modern fiction would enjoy it.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertainingly black, 17 April 2011
This review is from: Cold Light (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I enjoyed this and wanted to read it quickly by comparison with some. It is a dark story so if teenage angst and friendship issues, somewhat dysfunctional families and the discovery of some of the grubbier side of sexual awakenings are not your thing then this may well not be for you. However the characterisations were very good indeed and the story - moving from the events of ten years ago to current events - kept my attention fully.

Ten years ago one of three friends dies as an apparent result of a suicide pact with her much older boyfriend. But was that what really happened? Using the remaining two girls stories and memories together with a perennial local TV reporter's coverage of a new memorial to the suicides the truth gradually unfolds about this and other aspects of their lives and families from 10 years ago. A good story well written - I'd try another happily.
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Cold Light
Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth (Paperback - 19 Jan. 2012)
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