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Saturday, March 3, 2018

This Bright Beauty by Emily Cavanagh - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Franci and Lottie are identical twins. While in the beginning Lottie was the stronger one, later in life the balance shifted. Lottie's constant struggle with bipolar disorder and her reluctance to stay on her medication are making it difficult for Franci to stop worrying about her sister. Lottie stops taking her pills because she doesn't feel like she can be herself and she misses the manic periods, but being without her medication also brings the inevitable blackness of depression. Franci used to watch her sister's every move, however they have lost their closeness. First in distance and then a terrible incident caused a rift between them.

When Franci finds out Lottie was in an accident she rushes to the other side of the country to be there for her sister. She's stunned when she finds out Lottie has a daughter. Franci didn't know her sister was pregnant and never knew she had a baby girl. She has to take over the care while her sister is recovering. When she enters Lottie's apartment Franci finds a big mess. Franci should let Lottie lead her own life, but can she do this when she knows her sister isn't as stable as she should be, now that there's a child involved? When secrets of the past come to the surface the relationship between the sisters and their careful balance is being tested once more. What will happen when a terrible truth comes to light?

This Bright Beauty is a beautiful poignant story about two very different sisters. Franci and Lottie are twins and they look the same, but their personalities aren't very similar. Franci is levelheaded and craves stability. She finds it hard to be social, she doesn't easily make contact with others and she prefers to be invisible. Lottie gets along with everyone, she's outgoing and adventurous. When she wants something she goes after it. Franci and Lottie love each other unconditionally, but they have many issues. Lottie's illness and the consequences of her unwillingness to keep taking her medication are putting pressure on their relationship. Franci can't let go and wants to tell her sister how to live her life, which constantly causes friction. Their basis is a fierce love from both sides and the sisters try to protect each other, even if they don't get along. I love stories about siblings and was captivated by their complex bond from the start. Franci and Lottie clearly want to be individuals, but they have a connection that will never break. This makes fascinating reading and it kept me glued to the pages.

Emily Cavanagh writes about the emotional effects of being ill and watching a loved one struggle with a terrible illness in a fantastic emphatic way. She thoroughly explores every single layer of the feelings that are involved and the result is a terrific story. This Bright Beauty is heartbreaking and I often had tears in my eyes while reading this novel. I love it when I feel so much and This Bright Beauty impressed me on many different levels. I was mesmerized by the compelling relationship between Franci and Lottie from the start. I highly recommend this amazing book.


If you love emotional stories about sisters This Bright Beauty is an absolute must-read.

About Emily Cavanagh

Emily Cavanagh is a writer, teacher, and mother. Her work has been published in Grain Magazine, Transfer, The Vineyard Gazette, and Martha's Vineyard Arts and Ideas among other online and print publications. Emily lives on the island of Martha's Vineyard with her husband and their two daughters. Her first novel, THE BLOOM GIRLS released in March 2017 (Lake Union Publishing). Her next book, THIS BRIGHT BEAUTY, will release in March of 2018. She's currently at work on a novel that takes place on a fictional island very similar to Martha's Vineyard.


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Being a scavenger-using real life as inspiration for fiction
Guest post by Emily Cavanagh

I am a scavenger. This is something that few people know about me, at least until now, but I scavenge the world for stories. The books I write often come out of some kernel of real life—a newspaper article I stumbled upon, a tidbit of gossip whispered over coffee, or being witness to someone else’s drama as it plays out.

The idea for This Bright Beauty came to me after reading a devastating newspaper article involving twin sisters. I found myself haunted by the article and wondering how a twin relationship changes after one or both sisters have children. That question became the premise for the novel. The idea for my first book, The Bloom Girls, came after several incidents of sexual abuse in private schools was featured on the news and in the paper.

I became intrigued by the idea of growing up in the shadow of such an accusation and how a relationship is impacted when family members have different beliefs and understandings of the events. This became the kernel at the center of the novel. My most recent manuscript revolves around four college friends who come together for a weekend where all of the baggage from twenty years ago and the baggage they’ve acquired since comes back to haunt them. I began this book after spending a weekend with four of my own good friends. Over the weekend I pondered how female friendships and their intensity can change dramatically over time, and this inspired the manuscript.

Even the novels I read and the voices they’re written in can end up being devoured for my own material. When I first started the manuscript of the four college friends, I’d recently finished reading Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty, a novel that centers on a decades-long friendship between two very different women. Both the subject matter and Moriarty’s sharp and humorous voice were in my head as I began my own writing. While the end result of my novel is nothing like hers, that book was the kernel at the center of it.

Being a scavenger can be dangerous, and it holds a certain responsibility. I’m always aware of respecting other people’s privacy and the fine line that exists between using truth for inspiration versus cannibalizing and exploiting someone else’s life. While the idea for This Bright Beauty

originated from that newspaper article, the events that take place in the novel are completely different. The world, the conflict, and the characters are a creation of my own imagination rather than anything I read, and I am always conscious of the need to veer from the truth. That is the job of the storyteller—to find the kernel of emotion or conflict at the center of a tale and then twist it, mold it, build a world around it. While the kernel may be true, the world that exists beyond it is not.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive an audiobook, CD or MP3, version of This Bright Beauty by Emily Cavanagh.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Very interesting guest post. I had never thought before of the different ways that authors find their ideas. Thanks, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Great subject. Enjoy a good emotional book. Looks like the author writes beautifully well.

  3. This Bright Beauty sounds like a compelling, beautiful told story with well developed, believable characters and written with empathy and insight.

  4. Sounds and looks like a wonderful book. I would love to read it!! Rita Spratlen

  5. Ever since I discovered the Sweet Valley High series as a kid, I've loved reading about twins!

  6. Love the cover and can't wait to read this story about sisters!

  7. I like that you take tidbits from real life & integrate them into your stories.

  8. id love to listen to this in the car

  9. Always wondered where authors get their ideas from, so found this really interesting. :) Would be good to listen to on the train during the long journeys.

  10. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  11. Sounds interesting! Thanks for a chance to win this book! Lubka

  12. I used to have an imaginary twin when I was little. Her name was Sarah and we were once very close. Time, maturity and circumstances all change relationships and although I haven't needed her in decades, sometimes I wish I could be back when things were so much simpler.

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  18. Another great and very interesting guest post. I am a twin myself, though I'm sorry to say my twin is no longer with us. As always it was marvellous to read how these novels sprang from a little seed into a great novel. Thanks for sharing with us.

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