All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher, published July 2017 by Little Brown.
Goodreads Synopsis: Cherry has a hidden talent. She can see things other people can’t and she decided a long time ago to use this skill to help others. As far as the rest of the town is concerned she’s simply the kind-hearted young woman who runs the local bakery, but in private she uses her gift to add something special to her cakes so that after just one mouthful the townspeople start to feel better about their lives.
They don’t know why they’re drawn to Cherry’s bakery – they just know that they’re safe there and that’s how Cherry likes it. She can help them in secret and no one will ever need to know the truth behind her gift. And then Chase arrives in town and threatens to undo all the good Cherry has done. Because it turns out she’s not the only one who can see what she sees…
The Book Review
Before I get into this review, can we just take a minute to appreciate this:
— Rachel D (@bookgeek90) October 2, 2017
Why yes, that would be me meeting the fabulous Ms Carrie Hope Fletcher – author, YouTuber, and musical theatre extraordinaire! As I often whine on about, it’s rare for authors I love to make an appearance in little old Northern Ireland, so when they do I make an effort to see them. The turnout included many teens, but also a reasonably good mix of older folks (I realised I’m 2 years older than Carrie, which I won’t lie, felt a little odd!), and even a few gents. I got talking to a lovely girl in the queue (hi, Naoimh!), who I divulged the name of this blog to, so there’s a chance she might even be reading this.
Even though I’m usually not a big fan of magical realism, I previously read and enjoyed Carrie’s debut novel, On The Other Side, and the whimsical yet grown-up and contemporary fairy-tale vibe continues into All That She Can See. Carrie clearly has a fantastic imagination, and a beautiful way with words, which results in a modern story that contains themes of morals, humanity, and issues such as mental health, but in a reasonably simplified and easy-to-comprehend style.
You should be able to read this book in a couple of days, partly due to the simple (yet beautiful!) nature of the writing. However, due to my schedule for the past few weeks, I could only manage a chapter or two per night. This didn’t upset my reading of the book overall, but it would have been nice to spend more time immersed in the story, instead of dipping in and out.
I’ve seen quite a few reviews picking aspects of this novel apart, and while there are elements of it that are a little more difficult to believe (such as a very young and inexperienced woman being able to finance setting up her own business, which doesn’t seem to have very many customers to financially keep her going!), the fairy-tale feel of this novel, and the fact it is magical realism, kind of side-steps those issues for me. No one complains that Cinderella wears glass slippers, like how impractical would they be?!
Carrie’s writing style is definitely fairy-tales-for-grown-ups, so one thing I did pick up on was that there seemed to be very little cursing until the second half of the book, when f-bombs were dropped pretty regularly. It’s not a negative as such (f-bombs really don’t bother me, I use them often enough in my day-to-day life!), but they did seem a little out of place compared to the rest of the narrative.
Similar to On The Other Side, I felt there were elements of this novel that were inspired by Carrie’s real-life (we all know Vincent in On The Other Side is basically her ex-boyfriend, Pete, right?). In her debut novel, Carrie is more literal with the character inspiration, but I definitely get the vibe that whatever has gone on in her personal life has woven its way into this story.
The ending felt a little bit rushed, and I would have liked to know more about how the characters end up, as we are given one of those more open-ended final chapters that usually drive me insane. Overall though, I thought this was a really solid read that I’ll enjoy reading again, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next.
Have you read All That She Can See, or any other books by Carrie? Let me know in the comments!