03 October 2023



By John Boyne


Upon arriving on a small Irish island, Vanessa Carvin changes her name to Willow Hale. Wanting to escape the media furore that has been following her, she rents a small cottage. Her ex-husband is accused of being a monster — but does that make her complicit in his crimes? Vanessa reflects on her old life and the choices she made. 

This novella by John Boyne is another beautifully written piece of work. It's short but really packs a punch. As Vanessa's past is slowly revealed, the reader begins to feel empathy for her situation. Could she have lived her past life differently? Yes. But doesn't everyone have something they wish they could change? Out of tragedy new hope springs forth. Another wonderful story from this immensely talented author.     


  • Hardcover: 176 pages 
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Publication Year: 2023
  • Author: John Boyne
  • Genre: Literary Fiction


The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the island is change her name. To the locals, she is Willow Hale, a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage, not a notorious woman on the run from her past.

But scandals follow like hunting dogs. And she has some questions of her own to answer. If her ex-husband is really the monster everyone says he is, then how complicit was she in his crimes?

Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea but the choices she has made throughout her marriage have consequences. Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did - and did not do. Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding peace at all.

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