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The Illustrated Child

by Polly Crosby

Book Club Recommendations Debut Books of the Month Debuts Family Drama Modern and Contemporary Fiction Star Books

LoveReading View on The Illustrated Child

Our November 2020 Book Club Recommendation

Click here to see our Reading Group Questions.

A powerful, provocative, and darkly stunning debut. This is a book that tore my heart into pieces while simultaneously showing me the wonder of love and imagination. Romilly’s childhood is one of fame and isolation when her father includes her as the main character in his books for children. While the world believes that the books lead you on a treasure hunt, a more private and heartbreaking journey awaits Romilly. This isn’t an easy read, but it is a beautiful one. Polly Crosby somehow balances some incredibly difficult issues with a sense of wonder, she really does have the most eloquent pen. The prologue has huge impact, sweet, sharp, and bitter notes struck my awareness, and I reread the words before allowing them full access into my thoughts. I initially felt as though I was stepping into a half remembered mysterious photograph. As bites of reality began to appear, they caused a mental and physical ache for all that was lost and uneasy. As the ending settled and I sat back and contemplated, I concluded that it was the most pure and perfect conclusion. Romilly is so special, she has taken up residence inside my thoughts, and she is more than welcome to spend time there. The Illustrated Child is a vibrantly unique and thought-provoking read, it has been included as one of our LoveReading Star Books, and will sit as one of my favourite novels of the year.

Liz Robinson

The Illustrated Child Synopsis

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past - but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children's books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly's father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages...

The truth.

The Illustrated Child Press Reviews

Praise for The Illustrated Child:

'Evocative and enchanting - a future classic and a star in the making' Veronica Henry, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Beach Hut

'An extraordinary debut... beautiful, dark, haunting and unforgettable. It is a most wonderfully tender nightmare, a haunted-house childhood where the landscape gets ever stranger, a deeply affecting portrait of the climb towards adulthood. Nostalgic, familiar and yet utterly strange. I loved it' Edward Carey, author of Little

'A bewitching read' Woman & Home

'A celebration of the beauty and dark mystery of [Norfolk] ... Polly will need to brace herself for the attention and acclaim that comes with such a stunning novel' Norfolk Magazine

'Written in fine, delicate prose, this treasure of a debut takes up the palette of emotions and paints with all the colours' Nydia Hetherington, author of A Girl Made of Air

'A beautifully written tale that evokes dreams and imagination' Daily Record

'Exquisitely written, stunning, totally unique. Everyone needs to read this' Jessica Ryn, author of The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside

'A magical tale, beautifully written, evocative and mysterious, and stitched through with a dark thread that I wasn't expecting. What a wonderful book' Anita Frank, author of The Lost Ones

'Crosby weaves a magical spell in which dark-edged fantasy collides with everyday life' Publishers Weekly

'Polly Crosby makes sensory magic, conjuring images of such vividness that I'll remember them always. I'll remember Romilly and her father too: I loved them deeply' Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson

'Polly Crosby's magical debut ... is a story about daughters and fathers... a treatise on how to find hope in a universe rife with heartbreak and loss'

Andrew David MacDonald, author of When We Were Vikings

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780008358402
Publication date: 29/10/2020
Publisher: HQ an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008358402
Publication date: 29th October 2020
Author: Polly Crosby
Publisher: HQ an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 400 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, Debuts of the Month, Debuts, Family Drama, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Star Books,
Collections: Our Favourite Books of 2020,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Crime & mystery,

About Polly Crosby

Polly Crosby lives in Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much-loved Oriental rescue cat, Dali. To find out more about Polly's writing, please visit pollycrosby.com. Polly can also be found on Twitter as @WriterPolly.

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