Review of Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton, audiobook narrated by Gabrielle Baker
Finding Jessica Lambert was in my list of best lesfic books of 2020 and it would have been in the top 2 if I was pressed to choose. I’ve read it twice already and now that it’s been released on audio it was a no-brainer to listen to it. I’m surprised that it was like seeing the story in a new light and I liked it even more.
Clare Ashton is one of the best lesfic writers out there. I admire not only her writing talent but also the variety of her work. She can produce dark novels such as Pennance, angsty books like After Mrs. Hamilton and feel-good romances as Poppy Jenkins. While Finding Jessica Lambert is a romance, it delves into the depth of the human psyche, the despair of people suffering from anxiety and somehow, it comes out with a message of love and hope.
Jessica Lambert is a famous movie star who is burnt out from overwork and the pressure of fame. When running away in the midst of a panic attack, she is taken in by the enigmatic and more mature Anna, who lives a life isolated from the world. Without knowing anything about each other, both women feel an intense connection. But what happens when reality bites?
This was such an amazing read. Finding Jessica Lambert is a masterclass on how to build chemistry between two apparently very different characters – in age, race, and personality – and make it work effortlessly. Ms. Ashton builds a magnetic connection from the leads’ first casual encounter and slowly forms such a strong bond between them that it’s impossible to think them apart from each other.
Finding Jessica Lambert is an age-gap romance about overcoming inner demons, imaginary and real. It’s hard to find flawed characters in fiction that are so appealing in both their strengths and shortcomings so much so that they seem to come out of the page with a life of their own. That’s what makes this story so appealing. Even though the title suggests a focus on Jess, in reality, it’s about the inner journey of both characters equally. It could as well be called Finding Anna Mayhew.
Ms. Ashton has a way with words that is almost cinematographic, the reader can see the story unfold in front of their eyes. In the background, London is another main character, a city that can be both beautiful and oppressive. I lived there for 7 years and I felt transported to the capital in every single description of the cityscape. It was like traveling without moving from my room.
The audiobook version did justice to the book, I admit it took me a bit to get used to Gabrielle Baker’s narration, especially her choice of voices. I just wish her voice for Anna was as honeyed as the written text describes, it’s my only objection and it’s 100% my personal preference. However, her performance of feelings and her different accents were spot-on.
I have no complaints about this book apart from wishing that the author could write faster because her books are incredible journeys that I’m always willing to take. I cannot recommend it more. 5 stars.