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Exquisite

Published Date: 26th January 2017

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EBook
978-1-910633-75-5
£5.99
1 June 2017
Paperback
978-1-910633-74-8
£8.99
1 June 2017
Audiobook
Coming soon

Description

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops…

Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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‘A perfect literary thriller. A moving, gripping story told in beautiful prose. The twists keep coming until the very last page. I loved this book’ Erin Kelly

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‘Whip-smart, lushly written and truly page-turning. I loved Exquisite, from the misleading simplicity of the premise and right down through all the dark depths of the she said/she said narrative. Sarah Stovell is a thrilling talent’ Holly Seddon

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Exquisite is a powerful and assured debut thriller. Slickly claustrophobic and delicately wrought this arch story of obsessive forbidden love taken to the extreme will have you squirming in your seat even as you’re driven to turn the next page. A must-read for 2017’ Sarah Pinborough

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‘Sarah Stovell writes beautifully. In her latest novel she combines that skill with a thrilling dramatic narrative. Exquisite in every way’ Essie Fox

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‘Beautifully written and perfectly twisted, I was sucked deeply into the intertwined worlds of Alice and Bo and found myself reading through my fingers, compelled yet terrified at what the outcome might be … And that ending. Just wow. There could not be a better title for this book’ S J I Holliday

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I bloody loved it. So clever, so beautifully written, such brilliant characterisation and THAT ENDING! This book is going to be MASSIVE! It has all the special little things that make it stand out from other psychological thrillers and it had my tummy in knots. I’m going to be shouting about this one for a long time. Definitely in my top reads for 2017’ Lisa Hall

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‘Addictive, terrifying and beautifully written, Exquisite is up there with the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read. Fucking awesome’ Chris Whittaker

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‘Beautifully written, atmospheric and sexy, Exquisite is a satisfying psychological thriller with real class’ Cass Green 

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‘Alice, a charismatic young woman with a chaotic personal life, signs up for a writing workshop with Bo, an established novelist and married mother of two. There’s an instant connection between them — but is it literary, romantic or just fantasy? Passions flare and curdle, and the reader’s sympathies are kept on a knife-edge as Stovell skilfully juggles two unreliable narrators. It’s a remarkable debut in the crowded psychological thriller field, written with great sureness of touch and tone — it already feels like a summer bestseller.’

Exquisite is selected as a STAR PICK in The TIMES CRIME CLUB

Author

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

Online Reviews

‘The best novel about obsession that I have read in a decade. Beautiful, beautiful writing with two extraordinarily divisive characters. I’m book hungover … pure brilliance. Exquisite is going to be HUGE’ Liz Loves Books

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‘A highly addictive, sophisticated and very twisted psychological thriller. The reader is exposed to the workings of the darkest of minds, and each page presents a question, although the answers are not always apparent. The development of the intense and, at times, very disturbing relationship that grows between Bo and Alice is so finely done, with some spectacular characterisation and surprising twists. Sarah Stovell is hugely talented, and Exquisite is an absolute triumph’

Random Things through My Letterbox

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‘Beautifully written prose put me right inside the heads of these two unreliable narrators … the tension gradually escalated until these two intelligent women became pitted against one another, with more than a hint of Fatal Attraction. I found it very difficult to know who to believe, who was telling the truth and who was telling lies. This unforgettable, outstanding psychological thriller should be on everyone’s ‘to buy’ list!’ Off-the-Shelf Books

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‘Fatal Attraction meets psychological thriller in this unputdownable, sexy, taut novel. A twisty-turny story of obsession and love, EXQUISITE traces the increasingly twisted relationship between a bestselling author and a young aspiring author. I’m not usually one for romance in my thrillers, but Stovell has infused her book with just the right amount of chemistry and tension between her lead characters—just enough to enhance the story without overpowering the darkness at its core. Exquisite is chosen on Crime By the Book’s 2017 summer reading list!’ Crime By The Book

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‘Start this book and you won’t rest until it is finished. Talk about psychological thriller!! It’s everything you could dream of in a thriller and then some … The stunning narrative combined with these incredible characters and a  geniously clever premise that is delivered to perfection will B.L.O.W Y.O.U.R M.I.N.D … This author is definately one to watch, her writing is. ‘ exquisite’ and I think her voice is so unique, she breaks with some of the traditional ‘ rules’ of writing and proves that rule are meant to be broken as the results are enthralling.’ If In Doubt Read

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‘I did love this book. Like a thin shard of glass, Exquisite punctures the heart and the shard first warms and then freezes until, like glass, the heart shatters … This is exquisite love and exquisite pain. The two are seemingly inextricably linked.  With pace, heaps of tension, and an ending which leaves you questioning everything, this dual first person narrative is a massive contender for psychological thriller of the year.’ Live and Deadly

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Exquisite is a perfectly suited title of a book of such lush lyrical prose with themes of obsession, manipulation, and all-consuming passion. With gorgeous descriptions of one of my favourite places in the world – The Lake District – and strong, believable narrative, Exquisite has proved itself more than worthy of being among the best psychological thrillers I have read in some time. Debut author, Sarah Stovell, is definitely one to watch.’ Boofs Books

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‘This is a very tense and beautifully crafted psychological thriller which keeps the reader captivated until the final page.  Each chapter, whether it was Bo’s or Alice’s narrative, kept me gripped and holding my breath.  I absolutely adored this book and wish it every success it deserves and highly recommend it to all lovers of intelligent psychological thrillers.’ Compulsive Readers

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‘Throughout the story, the reader knows that something serious will happen, that is clear from the address of one of the narratives, however, it is not until almost the very end that we can be sure of the reliability of the narrators …… or can we? Exquisite deserves to be huge in 2017, it is quite extraordinary. At times uncomfortable, often shocking, but always compelling.  Sarah Stovell is hugely talented, Exquisite is an absolute triumph.’ Random Things

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‘Stovell’s psychological debut is absolutely brilliant and is a shining star. I quite honestly have never before read such a thrilling and nerve-shredding read.  I have a feeling this one is going to be one of the most talked about books this year. A must read and one you won’t be able to put down.’

Tracy Shephard

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‘I was shaken to the core by the disturbing but fascinating characters and the ferocity of the emotions coming in waves through my body. I lost myself in this book, and I won one of the best reading experiences I have ever had. In her stunning debut, Sarah Stovell’s grandiose prose tells a tale of the scars of love. Exquisite is chillingly brilliant and absolutely riveting.’

ChocolateNWaffles

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‘Sarah Stovell has written a dark and powerful psychological thriller which will send your brain into a tailspin.  Long after I finished the book I’m still thinking about it and trying to process what I’ve read … The writing is just wonderful and the characterisation is superb – my allegiances shifting with each chapter reveal. This is one book that you will not forget in a hurry.’ My Reading Corner

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‘Absolutely brilliant psychological suspense that blends a touch of Fatal Attraction with a thriller set in the literary world.’ Exquisite was selected as Crime by the Book’s favourite Read of the Month

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‘It kept me reading, I couldn’t be distracted from it and the characters got under my skin … It was clever and ambiguous, but not so much so that it distracted you from the characters. I think this was an exquisite psychological thriller and I can’t wait to see what Stovell does next as I’m sure it will knock my socks off. I highly recommend this novel!’ Bibliomaniac

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‘I think it’s difficult to make a thriller genuinely sexy without seeming to try too hard or feel contrived – but Exquisite manages the perfect balance of a perfectly created fictional world and a realistic portrayal of an unsettling relationship. I loved this novel and I’ll be recommending it to everyone who likes their novels unpredictable, sexy and with a hidden sting in the tail.On The Shelf Books 

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‘What’s most interesting about this is the point where the alleged affair begins and we get both takes on it; who’s leaving details out? Who’s exaggerating? As the pace ramps up, Stovell alternates between Bo and Alice as we discover who’s lying and who’s the smarter of the two … Exquisite is a cracking debut. An interesting premise, well-structured with some sharp writing and a gripping plot.’ The Writes of Women

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‘Exquisite is so skilfully written, I was completely, utterly absorbed and was dying to know what was really going on. Relationships, passion, love, and writing are all prevalent themes. It’s interesting that the language is very descriptive at times and really evokes what the characters are experiencing – very powerfully – but also addresses such everyday tasks and incidences … A great novel I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.’ Snazzy Books

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‘It’s very hard to discuss Exquisite without giving away anything in terms of the plot. There is no denying Sarah Stovell is a superb writer. The prose and cadence in Exquisite is beautiful. Even the mundane is made exceptional, and that’s all down to how well the author writes. If you enjoy clever domestic noir, then Exquisite is the book for you. Compelling, menacing and fraught with tension, definitely one to add to your list!’ Bibliophile Book Club

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‘Clever intelligent plotting, a wonderful use of language to subtly engage the senses of the reader, with a strong emotional core that just stays with you for days and days after finishing it, Exquisite is the best novel about obsession I have read in forever. It is certainly the best psychological thriller I have seen emerge from the crowd in the last few years – A shoe in for my top ten this year and a definite chance at the top spot, Simply Gorgeous!’ Liz Loves Books

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‘I absolutely loved it. It’s disturbingly dark, full of tension, extremely compelling and so beautifully written and unique. I’m not going to say anything else for fear of spoiling anything for anyone but what I will say is that I think that Exquisite is an absolute must read book for fans of psychological thrillers and I can’t recommend it highly enough!’ The Haphazardous Hippo

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‘There is no doubt that the writing is very strong, the descriptive narrative is brilliant, truly setting the scene and putting the reader into the heart of both Brighton and the Lake District where the book is primarily set. And the way in which Stovell captures the obsessiveness of the relationship between Bo and Alice is really effective, as is her knack for creating a sense of foreboding.’

 Jen Med’s Book Reviews

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‘The pace of the book constantly draws you in and takes you along … At one point, Alice describes Bo as an ‘enigma’ but I think that actually, that word can be applied to the whole book. This is a book which involves you totally when you are reading it. It knocks you off balance and you never quite feel confident throughout.’ Books Life & Everything

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‘This is THE book to read in 2017 if you enjoy psychological thrillers. READ THE BOOK. GO IN BLIND. THANK ME LATER.’  The Suspense is Thrilling me

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EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell is simply superb. Compelling, dark, and terrifyingly intense, this novel wraps its psychological tendons around you from the beginning and doesn’t release you until the very end … Edgy, atmospheric, and gripping, EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell will keep you hooked and give you chills – and the ending is scarily perfect! EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell should not be missed and I highly recommend it.’ Books of all kinds

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‘Never before has a book been so perfectly titled, the writing, the plotting, the characterisation, the setting are all utterly exquisite.  There is a raw intensity in this book that is so thought provoking and continuously challenges the reader.  I absolutely loved this book and devoured it in a day, it’s always a good sign with me when I cannot bear to put a book down … I have no doubt that this book will feature heavily in the top books of 2017  with many readers, and it absolutely deserves to!  A truly magnificent debut from a promising author, and quite possibly one of the finest thrillers I’ve read this year!’

The Quiet Knitter

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‘The lyrical prose is what takes this novel from run of the mill to something that is for want of a better word, exquisite.  Stovell has eloquently created a book that is dark and atmospheric with sinister undertones throughout.  I highly recommend this to fans of psychological thriller and domestic noir.’

Feminisia Libros Reviews

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‘Insidious would be a better way to describe this story, as opposed to exquisite. It creeps up on you like a sea roke appearing along the coast … I really enjoyed the viciousness of the plot. It is ruthless and perhaps a tad too realistic, if you know what I mean. Brilliant read, Stovell is definitely one to watch.’

 Cheryll MM’s Book Reviews

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‘The story is narrated first by one woman, then the other and at the outset it seemed as though I was reading the same chapters twice as events are told by Alice then Bo, until suddenly tiny discrepancies creep in and its grows clearer that one of these voices is somewhat unreliable …. and then the shit hits the fan … and the OMG moments become almost too much to bear! A stunning and immaculately fragmented tale of twisted perfection.’ Beady Jan’s Book Reviews

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‘This is a creepy, freaky and tense thrill of a read. I found I didn’t want to put it down and only did so when I really had to. The story is told by Bo and Alice in short chapters which helped me to race through it as I just needed to know how it all ended. And that ending, well yes, it certainly made me think. Exquisite is a perfect unreliable narrator story – who is telling the truth? The writing is stunning and the story is clever. Truly exquisite!’ Short Book and Scribes

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‘It is no surprise to me that this book is so brilliant. It has become so natural for Orenda Books to be synonymous with beautifully written, atmospheric, engaging and unique novels that it’s not so much an expectation, but a foregone conclusion that any novel released by Orenda will be exceptional to the point that you want to unread it and read it again with an unknowing mind. Exquisite is no exception.’ Segnalibro

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Exquisite, by Sarah Stovell, is a deliciously disturbing psychological thriller centring around two women … Beneath the beauty of the descriptions, the subtlety of the prose, an undercurrent of menace pervades every twist in the tale … A tightly constructed, beautifully written, impressively unsettling psychological thriller. For fans of the genre this is a must read.’ Never Imitate

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‘Everyone will be calling this book ‘exquisite‘. It’s a perfect title. But if anyone thinks that’s too cliched, here are a few of the other words and phrases that came to mind as I read it  – stunning, gorgeous, expertly crafted, superb, magnificent, breathtaking, breath-holding, skin-tingling, and highly memorable. Some of the best writing I’ve read all year. An unforgettable, outstanding book that should be on everyone’s ‘to buy’ list!’ Off-The-Shelf Books

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‘I won’t say that it’s Exquisite – that jokes been done – but it certainly is marvellous, and that is in no small part to the wonderful work of Karen Sullivan who has shaped so skillfully and been such a champion for the novel. The 5* reviews are flooding in thick and fast, and I’m sure more will follow. Foreign editions are also coming out in France, Germany and Sweden…’ Blake Friedmann

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Exquisite is a claustrophobic, tense and thrilling novel that will grab you on the first page and won’t let you go until long after you’ve read the last page. I was literally sitting stock still with the book in my hands for a good few minutes when I read the ending, and I’m still thinking about it now and mulling it over! I love when a book leaves me feeling like this!’ Rather too fond of books

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‘What a journey Exquisite has taken me on … I’M PETRIFIED!!! If ever there is a real life person such as Bo Luxton and you happen to cross her – get out, get away and stay clear of her. She is 100% evil … Well done Sarah Stovell for blowing my mind completely out of the water with a story that will stay with me for a verrrrrrry long time!’ Page Turners Nook

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Exquisite is the word I would use to describe this psychological thriller, in which via a beautiful prose we become captivated with these two characters, teacher and alumni, lovers… that on the end they are simply human and just want and need to be loved … I would love to read more about Alice and Bo’s story, will their paths cross again? Will they ever be able to be friends? So many questions but no answers… Take a breath and start reading Exquisite, it will surprise you!’ Varietats

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Exquisite is a twisty, breathless thriller blended seamlessly with a touch of Fatal Attraction-inspired romance-gone-wrong – a winning combination, executed brilliantly. Add in a bookish setting and you’ve got yourself the perfect escapist, addictive crime book to take on your next vacation … EXQUISITE is an on-trend psychological thriller that blends the best of its genre with a dash of tense, sexy infatuation to fantastic effect.’ Crime by the Book

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‘All in all, Exquisite is a largely satisfying psychological thriller with the influence of others in the genre looming large, but taking on an identity of its own. It is a disturbing tale of lies, jealousy and obsession, which will more than sate the reader of the current domestic noir crop, but definitely at the darker end of the spectrum. Recommended.’ Raven Crime Reads

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‘This is a rare book. The narrative is liquid and smooth, washing over you so easily that you don’t even notice the whole day is gone until you finish the book and the world has carried on without you … The descriptive nature of the book, set in the Lake District, is also a metaphor for Bo & Alice’s exquisitely beautiful and intense relationship. There are descriptive passages so beautiful, I re-read them multiple times.’ Bookish Lara

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‘Some very insightful beautifully written passages about the hurt felt when one person rejects another in a particularly nasty, narcissistic self-serving manner. Anyone who has been profoundly hurt by another in this way will no doubt identify. I went back to read some of the paragraphs again, amazed at the description of true hurt and the destruction of a personality by another. I felt like printing out a few passages and framing them. A compulsive hard to put down read.’ Mrs Bloggs Books

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‘I am seeing lots of love for Exquisite and I can understand why – it is a troubled love story, brilliantly constructed and the writing is top notch – plus Sarah Stovell has thrown in some nasty twists for her character … Exquisite – loads going for it and it will be loved by many (but I don’t think I am a typical representation of the target audience).’ Grab This Book

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‘This is genius, pure genius, Stovell has really made herself shine in a genre that is saturated with the same old style plots … I loved everything about this book, it has depth, characters that you love and hate and a plot that will leave you breathless, all that set against one of the most beautifully descriptive backdrops, you are in for an absolute treat – this is a complete MUST READ!!!!’

 Emma the little Bookworm

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‘It’s not fast paced but its written so wonderfully that it keeps you totally captivated, it’s intense and I found myself holding my breath and furiously turning pages until I got to the last few chapters, then I kept putting the book down. I’d go make a coffee, pick it up again, go let the dog out, pick it up again and so on, I just didn’t want it to end.’ It’s all about the books blog

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‘Stovell has such an impressive writing style, I was mesmerized by how polished, sophisticated and smart it was. This was an intoxicating read about obsession with a darkly sexy, seductive feel that left me reeling. It was one of those books where you flip back to the prologue just to reread it now knowing what you do, things all fall into place and then you want to read the whole book again. If you like psychological thrillers this is a must read.’ Novel Gossip

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‘This has to be one of the best psychological thrillers I have read this year. I was on edge the entire time I was reading it and I got that little pain in my neck that I always get when my blood pressure is raised! … Exquisite is a perfectly named book and a must read for lovers of dark psychological fiction. Buy, enjoy and reflect-it’s as easy as that!’ My Chestnut Reading Tree

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Exquisite is a very competent debut from Sarah Stovell that highlights some very strong themes ~ obsession, narcissism, and manipulation. I do think it would work very successfullly on the big screen. The sizzling chemistry between Alice and Bo is palpable off the pages with very astute descriptions and characterisations. I have no doubt Exquisite will be a book that will be among the top recommendations for many this year.’ Swirl and Thread

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Exquisite is a well-constructed psychological novel with flawed but believable characters. There’s never any sense of being short-changed; I found myself devouring Stovell’s intriguing, incisive prose in a couple of sittings. It’s a compelling debut thriller from a creative writing lecturer who has obviously put her own teaching to good use.’ Claire Thinking

 

Reviews