The Confession – Jessie Burton

Published by: Picador
Pages: 455
Date released: 24/09/2019
Date read: 10/01/2020

One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to L.A, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.

Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession.

I’ll be honest, I’ve found Jessie Burton’s previous books quite hard to get into. The Miniaturist and The Muse – they’ve just not been my kind of thing. But I persevered with The Confession and I’m glad I did because it is a beautiful piece of art.

This is a powerful and emotional story about what it means to keep secrets, what it means to be a mother, and what it means to be a friend. It teaches us about love and about loss, and fundamentally, about ourselves. It is never too much. Jessie knows how to write women exactly as they are with every flaw and beauty. She manages to depict the complexity of friendships and relationships. It would be lovely to say that you become friends with someone at age 10 and continue that friendship for the rest of your life without fights or fallings-out. But that’s a fantasy. No relationship – platonic or romantic – stays true for every day. It also gets us to think about what we really want. To be careful what we wish for. That the grass isn’t always greener.

Burton manages to capture the true essence of each character and it’s truly gripping. I devoured the book in quick-speed time and was bereft when I finished it. I felt lost. I want to meet Constance and I want to live within her stories. I want to explore Costa Rica with Rose. I want to love like Elsie.

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