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Honey

"Beautifully-written and addictively juicy, this dazzling debut shines a spotlight on the coming-of-age of a female pop artist through the 90s."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Astute, addictive, lemon-sharp and steamy, Isabel Banta’s Honey debut explores a young woman’s navigation of celebrity, sex, relationships and identity through the late 90s and early 2000s. Part coming-of-age novel, part exposé of sexism and double-standards in the music industry and media, it’s devilishly compulsive, and clever with it.

“I feel like a fruit swinging from a tree. Plump and flush with color. Waiting to be picked”. So remarks Amber early on in the novel (and her career) in a line that encapsulates the quality of Banta’s writing — Amber’s voice is utterly compelling, and spiked with rapier-sharp observations of her world, and herself.

In 1997 Amber gets the call she’s been waiting for — the chance to join new girl band Cloud9. In time, Amber embarks on a solo career, like her former bandmate, Gwen, whose “friendship was my skeleton — it held me up”.

But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — Amber’s left feeling as if she’s been “abridged to just my body”, not least in the aftermath of a liaison with a guy from a famous boy band. While he comes through the gossip unscathed, she’s seen as a slut and seductress: “I’m a late-night punchline and will be for years. I’m a tabloid tossed over chicken cutlets and eggs in a shopping basket”

In time though, Amber starts to find her true voice and a sense of agency, though the novel is never sentimental. Rather, Honey feels 100% authentic from start to finish. There’s sex (lots of it), and an exhilarating sense of a young woman learning to navigate her life and career on her own terms. 

Joanne Owen

Star Books

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Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction
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