THE OTHER HALF OF AUGUSTA HOPE
– Published 13th June 2019
by Joanna Glen
RATING: 4 STARS
***SPOILERS WILL HAPPEN***
I’m not going to lie, this book has take me a while to read. Not because I didn’t like it or anything, it’s just got a slow burn plot that perhaps is not something I’m either used to or in the mood for. I began reading the book via the hardback and then changed over to the wonderful world of Scribd for the audiobook which I must admit was a big help in keeping me going. Overall, I’m glad I did.
August Hope is supposedly the weird one of the twins. After growing up in a small town it was clear that Augusta was meant for bigger things, or perhaps bigger places. Her love of reading the dictionary over and over again gained her a few annoyed words from her family throughout her childhood and it was her sister that appeared to be the favourite, since she (again, apparently) wanted the simple life, to remain in the neighbourhood with a husband and child.
Augusta’s thirst for knowledge and words jets her off to university where she gets her first try at a love that won’t succeed. Here though she is able to study and learn more about the world she ever could back home and her new thirst for travelling becomes more prominent with her expertise in languages ever increasing.
Back home, Julia gets what she wants. She marries Diego, the Spanish boy that moved to town when they were kids. Soon enough, a newborn is on the way but everything isn’t as it seems. Not so long after, Julia takes her own life and changes the lives of everyone around her. It is hard for August and her family to digest but she find her own way in moving to Spain to live a new life following a passion for the culture and language. Diego follows her attempting to move on as well, but this only causes more complications. August is fascinated by a travelling artists work and eventually begins to understand her life and the world around her.
In the other half of the story we follow the trying life of Parfait. After leaving his family behind and loosing his brother, he is swallowed by his guilt yet continues to press on, learn the languages of the country in which he finds himself in and begins to immerse himself into the culture, a culture that is no torn apart by war and famine like his own. Moving away seems like his only chance but that doesn’t mean his if free from hardship. He finds his own passions and lives his life the best he can.
To me, this whole story is about exactly that: living life as best as you can. It’s about finding your passion, following your dreams, and pushing through the hard times to find better ones, so that one day we might finally see where we are meant to be. In this vain, perhaps everything truly does happen for a reason.
Though the story did have a slow burn, and constantly swapped between the two points of view, Joanna Glen’s writing was beautiful thought out and showed not only the character’s, but her own love of words. Perhaps its the use of these words that causes the slow burn but I truly feel that without it, the book itself just wouldn’t be as beautiful and deep in its messages. Through this, the story told is bittersweet yet definitely touches on some hard going topics but this is done with such a caring hand.
What originally kept me going was the love of the Spanish culture and language. In the beginning it was solely about the want to travel there and see more and slowly it became something else entirely. In some ways it becomes an obsession, but in others its a yearning and a need to be surrounded by the place. This is something I completely get and I’ve always felt like this with Spanish speaking countries, particularly Mexico. The explanation of language learning was notably interesting as I myself, have been learning Spanish so it’s always good to here how someone else has done it, fictional or not. What was lovely to read was the descriptions or certain words that literally translate to one things yet in Spain and within the culture mean something completely untranslatable. Oh the wonders of language. Not only this but the mention of other languages and words that are learnt throughout subliminally taught me so much.
In listening to the audiobook, I was able to get a grips on the story a way I struggled to with the physical copy. Everything that was said felt real as though straight out of a memoir. The readers Jude Owusuand Stephanie Racine did a lovely job in bringing the book to life and making me believe every word. It has got to be one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to. Well worth the download!