The Best Kind of Beautiful- Review
Author: Frances Whiting
My rating: ★★★★☆
Release Date: Published 29th October, 2019 by Macmillan Australia
Format: Kindle Edition, 259 pages
What did I think?
‘The Best Kind of Beautiful’ is a novel about quirky people from quirky families. Mainly Florence Saint Claire, who is an ex child-performer, with a prickly personality, now working as a gardener, and Albert Flowers who works with her. Each of them is hiding parts of themselves and the story is about finding themselves and, in turn, finding others. There are some secrets…I don’t want to say too much, though, because I enjoyed the way the plot surprised me.
Whiting has written a sneaky book. Initially, I was iffy about several main protagonists and I wondered if I would end up liking Florence at all. It worsened when I met two of her friends and wished that the book was about one of them instead (Veronica, an American preacher’s daughter. I wasn’t wholly invested in the characters until a third of the way through. To be clear, it wasn’t difficult to continue, it just hadn’t grabbed me fully. But grab me it did. I would absolutely have missed out had I stopped reading too soon because it turned into a story I didn’t want to put down.
Florence became a person who I could really get behind and Albert, who I initially liked, I ended up loving. They were made even better by the surprises they gave me. I also enjoyed the sweet relationship between the three Saint Claire children as they came to understand and accept themselves and their family. The novel deals with stories of loss in a beautiful, moving way. I’m not much of a crier — I don’t think I’ve ever cried from reading a book — yet at one point I felt a huge knot in my throat when I found out someone’s backstory. I was impressed.
I sensed shades of Celeste Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ and Gail Honeyman’s ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ in ‘The Best Kind of Beautiful’ (and that’s good news because I adored both of those novels!) and despite the minor shaky start this was a delight to read. And yes, I will be looking out for more by Whiting.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for honest review.