Review: Hope & Glory by Jendella Benson (2022)

Blurb

Glory arrives back in Peckham, from her seemingly-glamorous life in LA, to mourn the sudden death of her father, and finds her previously-close family has fallen apart in her absence. Her brother, Victor, has been jailed; her sister, Faith, appears to have lost her independence and ambition; and their mother, Celeste, is headed towards a breakdown. Glory is thrown by their disarray, and rather than returning to America she decides to stay and try to bring them all together again. However, when she unearths a huge family secret, Glory risks losing everyone she truly cares about in her pursuit of the truth.

Hope and Glory is a rich, heart-warming story of loss, love and family chaos, and marks an exciting new voice in fiction.

Review

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a proof copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, and huge apologies for the delay!

Glory is my favourite type of protagonist – complex, engaging, and flawed. Watching her navigate her return to London and the various complicated relationships she left behind, I felt by turns sympathetic and frustrated, not always agreeing with her actions but always keen to find out what was going to happen next.

The writing hooks you immediately, and the story carries you along – it’s one of those books that you think to yourself, “I’ll just read a few pages,” and then suddenly you find you’re over halfway through. The prose has an easy flow to it that is deceptive – it’s the kind of writing that seems effortless but is in fact the mark of great talent. What struck me most about the story was just how intricate it is, each strand connecting the characters delicately woven, and yet nothing feels contrived, it all feels absolutely real. Glory’s relationship with Julian is especially well done – I really enjoyed that aspect of the story.

This is a character-driven novel that does not shy away from the complexities of family dynamics – even without the shocking secret at the core of the story, there are myriad other examples of the difficulties of negotiating relationships with parents and siblings, and wonderfully perceptive depictions of how the past shadows the present, and how tricky it can be to ‘start over.’ And yet – if you’ll excuse the pun – there is hope – a realistic, tempered kind of hope, that leaves the reader with a sense of optimism at the story’s close. The characters – especially Glory, Faith and Celeste – have stayed with me long after reading, and I’m looking forward to reading more by this talented author.

Hope & Glory by Jendella Benson is published by Trapeze Books and is available to purchase here.

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