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Tuesday 8 August 2023

Becoming Liz Taylor by Elizabeth Delo


Spotlight Author and Book Special 

Dear friends. Today I'm thrilled to bring you a book that I adored. It has everything you want in a novel:  memorable and likable characters; emotional depth and longing;  poignancy and pathos.  Becoming Liz Taylor is the debut novel by Elizabeth Delo, a former teacher. Today is my stop on the blog tour organized by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.

The Story

Val, a widow living in Weston-super-Mare, spends lonely evenings dressing up as the movie star Elizabeth Taylor. It seems to be a way of coping with the loss and sadness she has experienced in her life. One day, when Val sees a pram left unattended on the seafront, on a whim she kicks off the brake and walks away with it...

Set in the present and the 1970s, Becoming Liz Taylor is a vivid and touching depiction of love, loss and bereavement - thought-provoking, moving fiction for fans of Rachel Joyce, Emma Healey and Ruth Hogan.

My Thoughts

The heavy burden of grief, mixed with loneliness, sounds quite a heavyweight proposition, particularly with Val "stealing" a baby.  But in the deft hands of the author, Val cannot be viewed as a bad person. There is humour and great warmth, as well as Weston-super-Mare coming gaily to life in the 1950s. 

Val's baby son and husband died tragically in separate incidents over 50 years ago.  Dressing up in her home as film star Elizabeth Taylor helps her feel close to husband Len. She is unaware it repelled their other son Rafe, who's been estranged from his mother for decades.

Seeing what looks like an abandoned pram with a baby boy inside catapults Val back to the 70s, and she calmly walks away with it. 

The writing is sublime in this debut novel, taking us back to the courtship of Val and Len and happy times at the lido in Weston-super-Mare. It was so evocative I found myself lost in 70s memories of spending whole days at the art deco lido on Plymouth Hoe with a Harvest fruit pie or pasty lunch.

Val goes on the run with the baby she's named Christopher. Looking after a baby again is hard for a 72 year old who has never driven on a motorway.  But although she's all over the news we still feel compassion for Val as the story of her grief unfolds. We understand she's not malicious but desperate.  

An utterly captivating and heart breaking novel about grief and loss. A must read. I consumed it in one day and had to finish it, reading into the night. Thanks to NetGalley and Atlantic Books for the eARC, and to Anne Cater and the author for allowing my participation in the blog tour. 

Disclosure:  I was given an advance copy of the Kindle edition of Becoming Liz Taylor in return for an honest blog post. My editorial opinions are unbiased. No affiliate links have been used. 

Sharing this post with #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverHello Monday at Sunshine and Books,Talent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer, Final Friday at Marsha in the Middle, Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon, Weekend Traffic Jam at is This Mutton #FridayCoffeeShare at Natalie the ExplorerUnlimited Link Party at Grammy's Grid

About the Author

Elizabeth Delo trained as a teacher and has worked in schools in London, Birmingham, Paris and Somerset. After writing fiction in her spare time for many years, Elizabeth took a break from teaching to do a master’s degree in creative writing at Bath Spa University, graduating with Distinction. She runs creative writing classes and has worked as a freelance editor. She lives in Somerset with her husband and has three children.

Buy the book: Becoming Liz Taylor

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  1. I felt compassion for Val - and R and Christopher - as I read your review.

    Yes - it might be hard to look after a baby again at 72.

    Also - Liz Taylor is just a fascinating person.

    Adelaide Dupont

  2. The cover is attractive, the title too, intriguing. And I like it when you can get onboard with the characters.


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