Magpie Book Review – The Literary Edit

I’ve long been a fan of Elizabeth Day; since I first started listening to her brilliant and popular How to Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast. She is without a doubt one of my favorite authors and a literary rarity, as she has mastered both fiction and non-fiction. So I discovered with some joy that her latest novel, Magpie, was about to be published amid Sydney’s never-ending lockdown (84 days and counting as I type). And while I don’t usually feel like torrential rain and looming skies, the gloomy and stormy weather earlier in the week provided the perfect excuse to hide with a book, and so I spent a day curled up and comfortable on the sofa, armed with a blanket, hot water bottle and plenty of tea when I lost myself in Day’s brilliant new novel.

Elster book review

A book that I knew I would love once I started. Magpie has all the ingredients for an undeniable and quick read. Set against a London backdrop that I know, miss and love, Magpie is a stylish and intelligent domestic noir, full of jealousy, infertility, motherhood, obsession and power, and offering a unique view of how we function as humans and how we do too fall apart when things don’t go according to plan.

It tells the story of the illustrator Marisa, who moves in with her boyfriend Jake after just a few months and tries to have a baby shortly afterwards. Abandoned as a young girl by her mother, Jake provides Marisa with the stability and security she has longed for and future family that Marisa has worked so hard to create imploding risks.

Absolutely undeniable, learned, and tense, Magpie is full of twists and turns, and is a fast-paced and skillfully written novel about motherhood and dreams, desires and resentments, jealousy and possessions, and the dangers of getting everything you ever wanted.

This nuanced literary thriller from Day is cleverly planned and shrewd throughout, and will give readers fresh insight into the devastating effects of infertility and ruined lifelong longings.

Magpie summary

Sometimes Marisa has the fantastic idea that Kate has visited the house before. She makes herself at home without any embarrassment. She puts her toothbrush right there in the master bathroom, on the shelf next to hers.

In Jake, Marisa found everything she ever wanted. Then comes her new lodger Kate.

Something is wrong with Kate. Is that how she looks at Marisa’s boyfriend? Sitting too tight on the sofa? Constantly asking about the baby they are looking for? Or is it all just in Marisa’s head?

Jake keeps telling her that. And she trusts him – doesn’t she?

But Marisa knows something is wrong. That the woman who sleeps in her house will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Marisa just doesn’t know why.

How far will she go to find the answer – and how much is she willing to lose?

Buy Magpie from Book Depository or Waterstones.

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I loved this interview with Elizabeth Day on the Guardian: “A lot of people longed to talk about failure.”

Elizabeth Day Author’s Biography

Elizabeth Day is the author of three previous novels. Her acclaimed debut Scissors, Paper, Stone won a Betty Trask Award, and Home Fires was Observer Book of the Year. She is also an award-winning journalist and has written extensively for the Telegraph, The Times, Guardian, Observer, Mail on Sunday, Vogue, Elle, and the Evening Standard.

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