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The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor - Review

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


I had heard good things about this book and then on a recent trip to Saltburn, I went into an independent book shop there. I googled and saw it was there, and I'm really glad we went in because it was a cute little shop and I'm sure they appreciated the custom just as things were opening up. I bought a book about selkies and other sea myths for my friend Lucinda. It was an absolutely beautiful edition and it just spoke to me, so I spent the money and sent it as a present for no reason to her.

And I bought this for me. I had seen a couple of friends read it and I liked the premise, so I bought it. Then I picked it up only a few days later - partly because it was at the top of the pile of books next to the bed, and partly because I wanted to read it.

I have to say that it didn't altogether live up to my expectations. It felt a lot like something I'd read before, it felt quite formulaic, and I guessed quite a few of the twists. The end did save itself for me slightly, but it's really only a 3.5 for me. 

So, it's 1962 and Evie is sixteen and has just finished her O levels. She isn't sure what she wants to do with her life, or what kind of Woman she will be. Although she is sure she won't be the same type of woman as Christine. Evie lives with her dad Arthur, who was widowed when Evie was a very small baby. Christine is their housekeeper. She's only 8 years older than Evie. She's been moving in to the farmhouse where Evie and Arthur live for quite a while, and she has Plans. She and Arthur get engaged and all her focus shifts to the wedding and to getting what she wants out of life. She and Evie don't get along, and she is determined to get Evie to get a job in the local salon and get her out of the farmhouse for good. She is aided in this endeavour by her mother, Vera, who is always around, and Mrs Swithenbank, a friend of Vera's who has problems with her bowels.  

Evie is somewhat of a dreamer and a loner. She spends a lot of time at her neighbour's house, Mrs Scott-Pym. Mrs Scott-Pym knew her mother, which is a nice part of the book, and spends a lot of time baking. The two of them decide to do some Yorkshire magic on Christine, and Mrs Scott-Pym also tells Evie about her daughter, Caroline, from whom she is semi-estranged. 

I didn't have a problem with any of this stuff, but I did feel like the story was a bit hackneyed and overdone. Evie is obsessed with Adam Faith, but later hears "four nice boys from Liverpool", which seems a bit of a trite storyline for something set in 1962. There was also some language use that I didn't feel Yorkshire people would have used in 1962 - I'm from Yorkshire myself and even as a little girl in the 80s people thought 'okay' was too much of an Americanism and said 'alright' or similar instead. I feel like a better copy edit here - from someone older who was from Yorkshire - would have helped. 

I was going to give this three out of five, but I do feel like the ending saved it slightly. But, I didn't love the book and I wouldn't read something else by the author. 

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