by Laura Vaughan
It’s my stop on the “The Favour” blog tour! Corvus have kindly provided me with a proof copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and a big thank you must go to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invite.
If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour and see what people have to say on Goodreads.
When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy.
In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set.
But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…
“The Favour” by Laura Vaughan follows Ada Howell, a young woman trying to find her place in the world. Before going to university, Ada takes an art history trip to Italy as part of a group called ‘Dilettante’, a word which I Googled and found it quite literally means a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge: the perfect name for this group, especially Ada! This group of people are everything Ada wants to be: sophisticated, cultured, and privileged.
I enjoyed the beginning chapters, getting to know Ada and this new bunch of people as they explored the sights of Italy. I did find it a little tricky to remember who was who at first, but with time everything began to fall into place. The writing is atmospheric and it’s very easy to imagine the Italian streets the group are walking down, despite having never been there myself. The first part of the story continues quite nicely as the group get to know one another, but it does move at a pretty slow pace, until reaching about 150 pages in when one of the group members dies. From reading the blurb I knew that this was coming, but I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into it whilst reading, so it still came as a shock to me. The build up to this event is very well written and descriptive, and the circumstances around it also kept me hooked.
Following this, the story moves away from Italy and jumps forward in time as the group move on with their lives, going to university, finding jobs and having children. The second and third parts of the book focus a lot more on the characters and the relationships between them, which for me was even better than the initial story building. It’s interesting to read about someone who cares so much about the opinions of others and how determined that Ada was to make sure she was presenting as a worthy group member. I liked most of the characters and their chosen paths, despite the fact that most of them were completely unlikable!
This is a book full of secrets, lies and misunderstandings that span many years and without saying too much, I think the way the story ended was probably my favourite part of the whole book. I’d be interested to hear an art historian’s take on this book, or someone with more knowledge of the field than I, but my lack of understanding certainly didn’t take away from this read in any way. I’ve enjoyed Laura Vaughan’s first adult novel and look forward to the next.
“I was happy to do you a favour, that’s all. A favour for my friends. A favour they would be grateful for – always.”
Overall rating: “The Favour” by Laura Vaughan is an atmospheric character study of a group of privileged young people. For the most part I found this to be an immersive read and I really liked the ending. It’s 4 stars from me!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle or Paperback through Amazon UK or your local bookshop.