All the Good Things Hardcover – 1 Jun 2017
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Heartfelt, heartbreaking, and genuinely joyous (Francis Spufford, author of 'Golden Hill')
Compassionate and beautifully written (Carys Bray, author of A Song For Issy Bradley)
A funny and hopeful story... Clare writes with compassion and insight (Kit de Waal, bestselling author of 'My Name is Leon')
I raced through this beautiful novel, which oscillates between pain and hope, anger and joy. An important novel which celebrates the fact that good things exist inside every person, no matter how ignored or hidden. (Sarah Butler, author of 'Ten Things I've Learned About Love' and 'Before the Fire')
A heartbreaking, vital and seamless insight into a life that might otherwise be ignored or judged. The voice of Bethany is perfect - compelling, whip-smart and deeply affecting. (Emma Jane Unsworth, author of 'Animals')
Clare Fisher's novel addresses poverty, fear, and desperation. The protagonist, Beth, must fight for every good thing in her life. She has grown up in foster care and has no friends or family to protect her when she moves London. In many ways, it is a novel about loneliness and isolation. Yet throughout there is an indomitable love. It is a book that burns with compassion, both Beth's and Fisher's. The reader is left with the desire to find whatever resources of empathy they have and to live with greater kindness. (Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You)
A moving, compassionate account of someone struggling hard for redemption (Sunday Times)
From the Inside Flap
What if you did a very bad thing... but that wasn't the end of the story
'An extremely moving, emotional rollercoaster of a debut novel' 5* Goodreads review
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone - even a 100% bad person - deserve a chance to be good?See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Keep the tissues at hand, this empathetic beautiful story will have you bawling your eyes out.
What a touching and scary read All the Good Things is. It’s touching because we see right into the very soul of dysfunctional and mentally ill Beth and her mother. It’s scary because what happens to them and the crime Beth has committed could actually happen to any one of us. I thought the dropping of the ‘any’ part of Bethany’s name highlighted this possibility. Her faults, her challenges, her triumphs and disasters are a hair’s breadth away for any one of us.
All the Good Things has a really clever structure. Within each of the list elements Beth writes is woven her back story, her childhood and what makes her who she is. Clare Fisher makes the reader confront Beth’s issues with her and understand that anyone we might judge in society, such as a woman in prison, is a real person with genuine struggles of their own. Beth is flawed, complex, intelligent and a complete disaster. The first person narrative with its breezy and realistic tone makes the story all the more real. I loved the way the text physically breaks down in structure at the end to reflect the actions happening in the story. The only element I was less keen on was some of the language in the reports in the file Beth reads. However, I think that might be because reading it made me feel quite uncomfortable.
I’m not sure All the Good Things is a book to enjoy as it paints at times a quite bleak view of the world, but it does have hope and optimism too and is a story that penetrates the soul of the reader. It is a book that educates and touches the reader so that I know it will resonate in my mind for a very long time. In hearing about Beth I was reminded of some of the students I have taught in the past and I know just how realistic her tale is. Life can be brutal, devastating and challenging and Clare Fisher presents Beth’s version of it with compassion and humanity. This is hugely affecting writing. Outstanding.
‘All the Good Things’ tells the story of Twenty-one-year old Bethany or Beth, our main protagonist. We learn early on that she is in prison for doing a ‘very bad thing’. Fisher does a brilliant job of hiding this from us triggering the tempo of the book to be well paced bringing about a wonderful thought-out conclusion.
Beth believes that trying to suppress ‘very bad thing’ means that she doesn’t deserve to feel good again. Enter Beth’s counsellor Erika, who starts a journey of redemption with her that at times is heartwarming and at times shockingly bold, harrowing and relevant to todays society. Beth is given a notebook by Erika and is asked to write down ‘All the Good Things’ about her life experiences instead of focusing on the bad thing she did. The thing about bad things is that they always find their way out in the end.
‘Of all the good things that have ever been in me, the first and the best is you. Every single part of you, from your stroke-able earlobes to the hope curled up in your toes. Remember that. Remember it when the ........... say you’re a bad or a so-what thing. Remember it when you’re convinced the good things are jammed behind other people’s smiles. Remember it the hardest when you feel like nothing at all.’
It’s not very often that within the first line of a book I feel such an emotional connection to a writers work. Which at first shocked me. I was immediately pulled into the mindset of Beth, from the first paragraph (above) – I don’t know whether this is because I am a father and understand what she’s saying or it was the deep compassionate voice of Fisher’s writing? I think the best explanation of this, is that it is both.
Colum McCann in ‘Letters to a Young Writer’ writes – ‘A first line should open up your rib cage. It should reach in and twist your heart backwards. It should suggest that the world will never be the same again.’
The chapters of the book comprise of the various ‘Good Things’ that Beth decides to write down and explore with us the reader. These are things such as ‘Friends you can be weird with’, Falling asleep with your legs tangled up in someone else’s’, ‘Reading out loud to people who listen’ and ‘When a baby bites your nipple like it will never let go’. It’s a wonderful ingredient to her storytelling and helps to give subtle insights into the mind of Beth and her emotional / mental state.
What blew me away with Fisher’s writing was her tremendous skill for the spoken word, she has an ear for conversation which helps the reader buy into the characterizations of her supporting cast. I used to work in a cinema in Ealing (West London) a long time ago now and I have to say it was like Fisher had crept into my brain in the quiet of the night and robbed my memories of this particular time and place and the people I worked with and became friends with and put it all down in her book. The subtle cadences woven into the cinema workers was remarkable, especially her friend and boss Chantelle (my boss spoke exactly like her) and the Chuckle Sisters (although mine were brothers – ‘to me to you’ not those brothers!). It was a world that in my opinion was very believable.
The underbelly of this book is something very brave and bold, coming at a time I believe that is very relevant and told in a compassionately arresting way. Fisher in her character Beth gives us for the want of a better word an expose of the care system and the mental health issues young people face and the pressures they have to fit in. It’s a startling insight of what it is to be human and fallible whilst exploring the inner strength needed to persevere in the sight of all consuming chaos when the odds are all stacked against you.
‘Then I looked at Linda. You could see right through her skin to her veins, and her cheekbones stuck out, but not in a model-way, in a bad way; my heart softened; how could you be angry with someone who’s hardly here?’
Fisher masterfully brings the book and it’s various challenging strands to a shockingly brilliant conclusion. Showcasing a maturity beyond her years, Clare Fisher is a writer I will be actively searching out in the coming years and a career we will be keeping tabs on. In my humble opinion this is a book that could and should be winning awards this time next year.
Fisher writes with an enthusiasm for her craft that I find is often missing from some of her contemporaries (debut novel writers). The books elegant language and structure has endeared her book to my heart. It’s not often that a book can punch you so hard in the gut that it lodges itself deep inside you. Becoming part of you. With ‘All the Good Things’ Fisher has done just that! I can honestly say that I can’t find fault with anything about her work – a truly stunning novel and a breathtakingly good debut.
If you like the work of James Frey ‘A Million Little Pieces’ and ‘My Friend Leonard’; ‘Rummies’ by Peter Benchley and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest’ by Ken Kesey then this book is for you – Fisher strings together elements of all these great writers and the comparisons are well within her repertoire. Clare Fisher is an original and significant voice in modern fiction that I would highly recommend you explore.
So why are you still sitting here? Go out and buy it…
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