ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne by Freya North

The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne by Freya North will be published by Mountain Leopard Press/Welbeck on 1st February in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to Emma Dowson at EDPR for the proof package.

When your present meets your past, what do you take with you – and what do you leave behind?

Eadie Browne is an odd child with unusual parents, living in a strange house neighbouring the local cemetery. Bullied at school – but protected by her two best friends Celeste and Josh, and her many imaginary friends lying six feet under next door – Eadie muddles her way through.

Arriving in Manchester as a student in the late 1980s, Eadie confronts a busy, gritty Victorian metropolis a far cry from the small Garden City she’s left behind. Soon enough she experiences a novel freedom she never imagined and it’s seductive. She can be who she wants to be, do as she pleases, and no one back home needs to know. As Manchester embraces the dizzying, colourful euphoria of Rave counterculture, Eadie is swept along, blithely ignoring danger and reality. Until, one night, her past comes hurtling at her with ramifications which will continue into her adult life.

Now, as the new Millennium beckons, Eadie is turning 30 with a marriage in tatters. She must travel back to where she once lived for a funeral she can’t quite comprehend. As she journeys from the North to the South, from the present to the past, Eadie contemplates all that was then – and all that is now – in this moving love letter to youth.

The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne is an ode to childhood and teenage years and the long-lasting effect they have upon us.

Eadie is an unusual child. We are at first privy to her childhood home in Parkwin, a garden city, where she lives with her parents next door to a cemetery. The dead people it houses become an unlikely kind of support to her as she navigates her school years. Whilst she makes good friends at primary school, she is also bullied and the consequences of this ripple down through the story.

We then follow Eadie to university in Manchester. This book is billed as a love letter to youth but it’s also very clearly a love letter to Manchester in the heady days of the late 80s. This is a story that takes Eadie full circle, and through sections set ten years after her university days, her unfinished business is finally dealt with.

Much of this story is based around Freya North’s own experiences of university life in Manchester, even down to the house she lived in and the settee she sat on. I could tell this was an intensely personal book for her and that the detail mattered because it mattered to her. I found it quite an introspective and brooding kind of read in many ways, and it has a touch of melancholy about it. I loved Eadie’s descriptions of her childhood home, her parents scribbling away at their desks, her visits to the cemetery. North describes perfectly the school years and that difficult step from primary to secondary school, and then the bewildering leap into university and being away from home for the first time.

This book flung me headlong back into the 80s and 90s, reminded me what it was like to be young, to not know what you want to do, where or how you want to be. It’s about different friendships at different times in your life, and about dealing with the past to fully live in the present. North’s writing is thoughtful and perceptive and this is a poignant and nostalgic read.

Freya North is one of the UK’s bestselling writers. Her first novel, Sally, was published to great acclaim while she was still in her twenties. Her subsequent books have all been bestsellers. In 2008 Freya North won the RNA Book of the Year award with Pillow Talk. Across all books and formats, Freya North has sold over two millions books to date.

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