Title: The Confession
Author: Jessie Burton
Published: September 24th 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
The sensational new novel from the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse.
One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession …
From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.
With a million copies of The Miniaturist sold, Jessie Burton returns with her highly anticipated third novel, The Confession. A book punctuated by poised and powerful storytelling, The Confession is a rich examination of motherhood, friendship, love betrayal, secrets and identity.
By chance, in the year 1980, Elise Morceau falls into the company of Constance Holden, a highly regarded author. Sparks fly between the two women and this fateful meeting sets in motion a chain of events that will impact the two women and those they love for years to come. Elise is captivated by Connie’s charms and she follows her to L.A. where the two get caught up in the glitz, glamour, scandal and false pretences of Hollywood life. However, tension soon occurs between the two women when it is clear that Connie has fully embraced her new stylish life, while Elise struggles with the change of lifestyle. A shocking revelation is made, which causes Elise to make a life altering decision. It is a fateful decision which sends shockwaves for years to come. The Confession is a resplendent tale of the ails of female friendship, loyalty and motherhood. It also represents a rich and varied exploration into the depths of the human condition to survive setbacks in life.
The Confession is a book that reeled me in initially due to the exquisite cover. The motif of a rabbit, adorned with thorny roses, wrapped around the silhouette of a woman stripped to her core, is commanding. It was the rabbit that had me quite mesmerised and this image plays an important role in the proceedings of the book.
The Confession is the second novel I have read from British author Jessie Burton, who is best known for her debut novel, The Miniaturist, which was recently adapted into a television series. One day I hope to source this series, but until then I am happy to explore Burton’s written work. The Confession is a poignant, moving and emotional novel, that might just tip you over the edge. There are some hard going scenes and themes that circulate around The Confession. Burton explores motherhood, abandonment, identity crisis, betrayal, loss and sacrifice. Burton’s approach is never scaled back, it is direct, immersive and pervasive. The text style is lyrical, poised and refined. However, I did feel as though Burton needed me to read between the lines to decide what was happening in her novel. This is particularly on point for the ending of The Confession.
Burton’s characterisation is a feature element of this novel. We have three protagonists, directly involved in the events in the novel. The Confession reveals itself via a double narrative, which is told via alternating points of view. In Rose, we see a thirty something woman damaged by the absence of her mother. Rose is at a turning point in her life and due to her unfamiliar family roots, she is unable to make a connections, or commitments in her life. Rose’s inherent need to get to the bottom of the truth surrounding her mother is what drives the novel in a forward motion. It also connects the two time frames together, as Elise and Connie’s story is unveiled like a puzzle, little by little. My dealings with Elise were guttural, I genuinely felt sorrow and loss for her, despite her suspect decisions. Elise’s storyline incorporates a moving picture of postal natal depression, which I felt was covered sensitively by Burton. In Connie, we observe her rise to stardom, in Hollywood in the 1980’s. This sub strand was such a fascinating world, that I enjoyed being acquainted with.
When the storylines in The Confession converge, the characters face devastating truths. It sends clear ripples through both the reader and protagonists. An ambiguous closing sequence concludes The Confession. Burton clearly has her finger on the pulse and wishes that her readers to connect the dots when it comes to the final fate of those that form The Confession.
A desolate novel that intimately explores the ills of fate, decisions, love, friendship, family, ambition and time, The Confession is another beguiling novel from literary sensation Jessie Burton.
The Confession by Jessie Burton was published on 24th September 2019 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Confession, Jessie Burton, visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.