ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Emily Noble’s Disgrace by Mary Paulson-Ellis

My review today is of Emily Noble’s Disgrace by Mary Paulson-Ellis. My thanks to Rosie Wilson from Mantle for the proof copy of the book for review purposes.

The case is unexceptional, that is what I know. A house full of stuff left behind by a dead woman, abandoned at the last . . .

When trauma cleaner Essie Pound makes a gruesome discovery in the derelict Edinburgh boarding house she is sent to clean, it brings her into contact with a young policewoman, Emily Noble, who has her own reasons to solve the case.

As the two women embark on a journey into the heart of a forgotten family, the investigation prompts fragmented memories of their own traumatic histories – something Emily has spent a lifetime attempting to bury, and Essie a lifetime trying to lay bare.

Emily Noble’s Disgrace is the third novel from Mary Paulson-Ellis, the bestselling author of The Other Mrs Walker, a Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year.

I was a big fan of The Other Mrs Walker and The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing, the first two books by Mary Paulson-Ellis. Emily Noble’s Disgrace is the third in this series of books about people who die without any obvious heirs but each can be read as a standalone story.

This is the story of two young women, Essie Pound and Emily Noble, and a boarding house in Portobello, Edinburgh’s seaside. Essie is a cleaner with a specialist company that cleans up after traumatic and messy deaths. The boarding house contains the body of Isabella Dawson, the owner and a major hoarder. Emily is a PC who comes across Essie and the boarding house in the course of her investigations. The first section is from Essie’s point of view, the second is about Emily and the third section, and my favourite, is the story of the boarding house and all its secrets, going back in time through the generations.

This is an intricately plotted read, one which I found really quite complex and cryptic. At times it took a bit of getting my head around but ultimately I loved the way the threads of the past filtered down into the present and the way the author took me way back through the years to make sense of them all. I also particularly enjoyed characters from the previous books popping up here and there.

Paulson-Ellis writes books that are right up my street with unusual and intriguing characters. Family history plays a major part and I loved being able to delve into the past in so much detail. I also really enjoyed the social history in the boarding house section and the conclusion to that part of the story was particularly shocking.

This story of the dead and their remains, both physical and emotional, is, for me, quite unique and the author has, once again, crafted a fascinating story.

Mary Paulson-Ellis lives in Edinburgh. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and was awarded the inaugural Curtis Brown Prize for Fiction in 2009 and the Literature Works First Page Prize in 2013. Her debut novel, The Other Mrs Walker was a Times bestseller and Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year. Mary was Highly Commended as a Rising Star in the DIVA Literary Awards and shortlisted as a Breakthrough Author in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2017. In 2016 she was named an Amazon Rising Star. The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing was her second novel.

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