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Precocious By Joanna Barnard

Precocious‘Precocious’ is Joanna Barnard’s debut novel.

Fiona Palmer is (un)happily married when a chance meeting with her former teacher plunges her headlong into an affair. Intercut with the realities of their adult relationship, Fiona remembers first meeting the enigmatic Henry Morgan as a precocious and lonely fourteen-year-old. Her schoolgirl crush developed into an intense relationship, but it was always one which she controlled. Or did she?

I started reading this book one evening and within a hour, I had read the first hundred pages. I was gripped by the bleak and desperate narrative from a woman who is so unhappy in life.

Fiona, has settled in life, her husband is passionately in love with her but sadly her feelings aren’t returned, as her heart belongs to another man. A man who she met in secondary school, who made her feel like a grown up and that her opinions mattered. Fast forward almost twenty years later and Fiona has ran into HM, the man that made her feel alive. Fiona then embarks on a relationship with HM, putting her future at stake, a marriage breakdown all for the sake of an obsessive and dark relationship.

The story is written in tenses, the present tense as Fiona begins the affair and also through diary entries as a 14 year Fiona old and she becomes friends with her English teacher. A charismatic and handsome man who takes her under his wing, encourages her writing whilst taking advantage of her naivety.

As the story progresses as the relationship develops. We see the darker side of love, an innocence taken away, an older man taking advantage of a young girl and an obsession that is incredibly wrong and creepy.

Fiona is an intriguing character, she’s permanently unhappy with her life and returning to HM, brings her back to a time when life was carefree with no pressures, but as she reflects on her time with HM, she begins to wonder was their time together as magical as she thought.

A sensitively and skilfully written story about forbidden love, battling the issues of abuse and underage sex, ‘Precocious’ is a compelling and unsettling story about twisted relationships and loneliness that makes for uncomfortable reading that was impossible to put down.

You can buy Precocious from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

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