Welcome to my stop on the On Hampstead Heath blog tour! Huge thanks to Arcadia Books and Midas PR for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Publication Date: 13/05/2021
Length: 160 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Thorn Marsh was raised in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half- finished sentences. Now she’s a journalist with a passion for truth, more devoted to her work at the London Journal than she ever was to her ex-husband.GoodReads
When the newspaper is bought by media giant The Goring Group, who value sales figures over fact-checking, Thorn openly questions their methods, and promptly finds herself moved from the news desk to the midweek supplement, reporting heart-warming stories for their new segment, The Bright Side, a job to which she is spectacularly unsuited.
On a final warning and with no heart-warming news in sight, a desperate Thorn fabricates a good-news story of her own. The story, centred on an angelic apparition on Hampstead Heath, goes viral. Caught between her principles and her ambitions, Thorn goes in search of the truth behind her creation, only to find the answers locked away in the unconscious mind of a stranger.
Once I picked this novel up, I didn’t put it down until I had finished it, I was fascinated by Thorn and the predicament she found herself in that it was delightful to spend the afternoon reading about it. Although Thorn felt a little pretentious, or even obnoxious, at times this actually didn’t put me off from her as a protagonist at all. In fact, I really enjoyed the slightly exaggerated jaded journalist stereotype that she portrayed. I loved how driven Thorn was in trying to preserve journalistic integrity and the search for the truth. I became endeared to Thorn from the meeting she had with her new boss Joe; I could actually feel myself be frustrated on behalf of Thorn for the direction that Joe was leading the newspaper. Whilst there are times where I want to shake Thorn and ask her what she’s doing, I still really enjoyed seeing her try to figure out what she should do in her situation.
This is a fairly short novel so there aren’t lots of different characters, which I liked, especially as the characters we are introduced to all have very memorable personalities. I thought it was interesting that Thorn’s, arguably, best friend is her ex-husband Nick; I loved their interactions and thought they were amusing. Thorn’s neighbour, Lottie, was the friend in Thorn’s corner that she needed and I really appreciated her insightful comments. Naturally, I can’t speak about the characters without mentioning the Angel on the Heath himself. Although this mysterious man isn’t in the book himself for a little while, I loved how impactful he was despite this and how Thorn was still able to form a convincing bond with him.
This entire novel focuses on this one event in Thorn’s life, as this is a short novel I liked the fact that this event did take centre stage with little deviation. We find out enough about Thorn’s life to understand her thoughts and her decisions. Cobbold manages to make a ridiculous and funny scenario feel very real and very likely; additionally the way humour is weaved in with the very serious issues that modern journalism is facing. On the surface aspects of this novel that are told in an amusing way to get your attention, actually have much more depth to them and explore a very real problem with the rapid development and spread of ‘fake news’ and the idea that a headline is the entire story.
Overall, I was entirely captivated by this novel for an entire afternoon. Cobbold’s writing has a way of commanding your attention without you even realising it until you have devoured the entire novel. Through this novel, Cobbold has captured very real problems and very real lives in a way that shows how she truly tries to understand and care about people, not just characters. On Hampstead Heath is a delightful way to spend a day and even though it is my first experience of Cobbold’s writing, it definitely won’t be the last.