Book Review

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

the flight of cornelia blackwood

Cornelia Blackwood is about to do something very wrong, for reasons she believes to be right.

She has a loving marriage, but she has no friends.

Everyone knows Cornelia’s name, but no one will speak to her now.

Cornelia has unravelled once before. What could possibly happen to her next?

An urgent and important novel of love, loss, tragedy and daring to hope again.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a relatively slow-paced novel, but it’s one that drew me in completely as I wanted to understand more of the initially enigmatic Cornelia (Leah) Blackwood.  The reader is given very little information about her to begin with, although it’s clear that she has suffered in her past and has been left with injuries often requiring the use of a cane to get about as well as great pain and / or the need for strong painkillers if she pushes herself too far.  Similarly, it soon becomes apparent that she has experienced more than her fair share of grief in her life.  The details take some time to emerge, but I thought that the author handled this deftly, drip-feeding the information through and always making me want to know more without revealing Leah’s full history until much later in the novel.

I don’t want to go into the plot in any detail – I went in with only the above synopsis to tell me what it’s about, and I think that this is absolutely the right way to approach this novel.  It is told predominantly in the present day with the occasional flashbacks to her past, exploring how Leah met her husband, Adrian, their whirlwind romance, and everything that came after.  It’s through the “THEN” chapters that you really begin to understand her character and what is driving her behaviour in the “NOW” chapters, some of which does come across as being a little odd to begin with.  And if her behaviour is a little strange, it is still understandable even without knowing her full history, although it’s obvious to the reader that it’s not entirely healthy behaviour, and I wondered where it would end – hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst.  Even then, it takes some unexpected turns, and the ending did come as a shock.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is an incredible novel that is dark and compelling, but also heart-breaking and poignant.  It deals with some extremely difficult themes, and yet it does so with the utmost sensitivity, and this is a story that will stay with me for some time.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood will be published on 21 February 2019 by Simon & Schuster.  Many thanks to the publisher and The Words Podcast for the early review copy.


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