The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

Book cover for The Miseducation of Evie EpworthSummary

From the back of The Miseducation of Evie Epworth:

July, 1962

Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?

The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine.

If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.

Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.

My thoughts

I had never heard of Matson Taylor or The Miseducation of Evie Epworth, but I received the book as a Secret Santa from Bert’s Books. I have to be honest: when reading the description, it didn’t really seem like my cup of tea. I’m not much for historical fiction and I don’t tend to read YA (which this book sounded like it was). But as I received it as a Secret Santa, I couldn’t leave it on the shelf. Besides, I really liked the cover, so I took the plunge and started reading it.

I don’t regret reading it. At all. It was a delightful book with great characters. I can’t say I was drawn in from the first page, because I wasn’t. The first chapter felt a bit weird and slightly pretentious, but it gets so, so much better after that. Evie is a delightful young woman who is trying to figure out who she is. She is haunted by her mother, who died when she was just a baby. Her father doesn’t want to talk about her and, to Evie’s horror, he’s very taken by the odious Christine, who is only after him for the money.

Evie is much more mature than her 16 years, but in some respects, she’s exactly how a 16-year-old would behave. Her efforts to save her dad from Christine are funny, but not exasperatingly so, and it’s very satisfying when she eventually succeeds in her mission (I won’t tell you how).  She’s very much in thrall with Caroline, who is a wonderful character in her own right. In the scenes with Caroline, the sixties atmosphere really shines through. For the rest of the book, it could have been set in any time period, really, but when Caroline comes on the scene, the sixties come roaring to the foreground. I loved it!

The book is written in the first person narrative from Evie’s point of view. Evie is a humorous narrator, who I enjoyed reading very much. Interspersed through Evie’s narrative is the love story of Evie’s parents – how they met and, ultimately, how her mother died. Evie tells her story in present tense, and it’s down to Matson Taylor’s skill as a writer that I stuck with the novel, as I don’t generally like first person present tense. There are very few writers who can pull it off successfully, in my opinion.

I am very happy that I received The Miseducation of Evie Epworth as Secret Santa, because it gave me the chance to read a novel outside of my usual choice and that’s not a bad thing!

You can get The Miseducation of Evie Epworth from Bert’s Books for £14.99.

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