Sweetpea: (click for link to Amazon)
The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…
An innocent sounding title, but Sweetpea isn’t a book for the genteel. Take heed. If you are easily offended, don’t have uncharitable thoughts about others, and don’t revel in inventive explicit language and ‘scenes of a sexual and or violent nature’, then this book should be avoided. Personally, I loved the turn of phrase employed by C J Skuse throughout the telling of this story, it shocked me in the most wonderful way! Superb.
Sweetpea has been Shortlisted for the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award 2018 and I’d had it on my ‘want to read’ list for a while. Having downloaded the audiobook, within minutes my jaw needed resetting. Sweetpea is told entirely in the first person and takes the form of a diary kept by a young woman whose past has had a direct and devastating impact on her personality. Rhiannon lives in a British West Country town, with her small dog and her boyfriend. She works for a local newspaper and that is where the fragile veneer of normality ends.
Rhiannon keeps a list. Each chapter begins as she recites the names on this list. The names change depending on what transgressions those individuals have committed, or on Rhiannon’s mood that day. People from work, friends who irritate or betray in some way, other road users, scum or ne’er-do-wells. I have similar lists, the difference being that I don’t often act on my dark thoughts. She does. And she loves it.
Rhiannon, the clever and insightful psychopath, is brought to life in this book by someone who understands the social pressures of being a young adult in today’s world of conforming to expectations about how they should live their lives, interact with others and aspire to the happy ever after. The need to fit in and how this cannot happen for Rhiannon is joyfully recorded using great evil expressions, deeply derogatory comments, fierce put-downs and downright revolting descriptions.
Sweetpea is hugely entertaining to listen to because the narrator ‘gets it’. She has just the right voice for the job and with her excellent timing, inflection, and ability to set the right tone of the story, it comes alive right into your ears! It was hard not to plug myself in for the whole twelve and a half hours and forget the rest of the world for a while, but in truth I rationed myself. Now, there is hole in my life which is about to be filled by another audiobook from the same author or the same narrator, possibly both …