Hello, Sunshines, I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for; Merry Go Round by Sarah Toll. I can’t wait to share this powerful book with you all.
I was scheduled to post yesterday, but due to a sickly pup I wasn’t able to – thank you Zoe for understanding, good news the pup is fine and I’m now able to share this review with you all.
About the Book
Merry Go Round by Sarah Toll.
Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Lily Montrose has endured a white-knuckle ride during her on-off affair with Nathaniel Deighton. She is sitting alone in a coffee shop when a brief but devastating call brings the whole thing to a crashing halt.
Fleeing her job and flat in London, she retreats to a farmstead on the shores of the north Devon coast to repair her broken spirit and regain her sense of self.
Here she finds an unlikely soulmate in Adam, a somewhat homespun but handsome local with unexpected qualities.
As the months pass by, Lily begins to put her troubled past behind her and – despite harbouring the most intimate of secrets – her relationship with Adam deepens.
But when Nat suddenly resurfaces, the malevolent merry go round begins to revolve once again, revealing the ugly truths that lie deep within Lily and unleashing a chain of events that will threaten not only her sanity, but everything she holds dear…
I was intrigued by this book from reading the back blurb, but reading it I soon realised that this wasn’t going to be the stereotypical contemporary romance with drama. As soon as I started reading there is something that niggled the back of my mind which made me think that this was going to be different to what I am used to from this genre.
Merry Go Round is written – rather superbly – in the first person, the story is told through the eyes of Lily Montrose, a fragile, naive, and vulnerable young woman who seems to go from one catastrophe to another – and when I say catastrophe I am talking more of the catastrophises which run through the human mind especially that of one which isn’t exactly sure of themselves and one which is being manipulated and controlled.
She has been in an on/off relationship with the narcissistic Nat, who is like a devil in disguise he is a user, a manipulator a controlling bully who has this hold over her mind and body without even being present. I don’t think I have hated a character as much as I hated him. When she receives some news she falls into her self imposed depression, leaves everything she knows and tries to make a new life for herself at the coast. Lily has finally found some happiness and she is content, she can breathe the salty sea air without the worry of her fractured mind riling up secrets hidden. She meets an incredibly nice man in the form of Adam and all are more or less well – that is until the demon Nat returns and the cracks start to appear and before she knows it she is heading into the darkness of her mind.
It took me a while to fall in step with it, I was intrigued by Lily and I enjoyed watching the whole world go by through her damaged and vulnerable eyes but there is something rather dark and uncomfortable about witnessing someone’s emotional breakdown even more so as you are literally in her head throughout.
Merry Go Round is classed as a romance, I wouldn’t have placed it in that genre personally as I see it more of a literary fiction come contemporary women’s fiction as I thought the romance was overshadowed by the serious themes running through the story. But, the moments of light relief when Lily was happy and content with handsome Adam when her fragile mind allowed her to take a breather and relish in being happy, those moments were beautiful.
Mental health awareness is very close to my heart, I have seen how the mind can take a loved one and how hard it can be to bring them back to lightness. I liked that the author didn’t overdo anything, Lily’s life and the circumstances surrounding her is brutally raw and emotional, to witness all of Lily’s turmoils first-hand is incredibly insightful and utterly devastating at times.
I am still in two frames of mind on whether I liked Merry Go Round or not, on one side I loved the way the story unfolds, I felt hugely protective of Lily and the writing was very absorbing. On the other hand, I felt – well the only way I can describe it as is; it was too claustrophic, at times I felt as though I was trapped inside Lily’s head along with her.
I am incredibly surprised to learn that Merry Go Round is the author’s debut book, the writing is so in-depth and immersive and I can see that Sarah Toll is going to have a long and successful career.
Merry Go Round isn’t for the faint-hearted, it’s a powerful emotionally draining personal account of a life full of damaging influences, complicated relationships and heartbreak.
About the Author
One fact that people may no know about Sarah is that she was an Olympic Torchbearer…She ran her leg of the relay in St Albans, Hertfordshire on July 8th, 2012. ‘It was the most wonderful day of my life, followed closely by the release of Merry Go Round. Carrying the torch was an honour and I’m so proud to be able to say I carried it.’
Sarah was born in Hertfordshire, where she lived and worked for many years in the NHS. She attended Oxford Brookes University and graduated with a merit in Creative Writing (MA).
Sarah now lives in rural Northamptonshire with her partner Keith, their dog and cats. She continues to write, paint and work as a Reiki Practitioner and Macmillan Volunteer.
Merry Go Round is her first novel, however, the next is already in progress. It is a ‘sidequel’ or re-write of Merry Go Round, following the same year but revealing the lived experiences of Adam and Lou whilst Lily was having such a bad time of things.
Website : http://sarahtoll.co.uk/