Review of ‘And Then There Was Her’ by Tagan Shepard
This was just the lesbian drama novel I needed and wanted. I’m a fan of Shepard. I have enjoyed all of her books but this is my new favorite. I must admit I went into this book with lower expectations since some of the early reviews seem to be all over the place. However, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I didn’t like this, I loved it. You know when a book just fits you so perfectly? When it fits your mood and your life and it just connects completely with you? That was this book for me. Had I read this book a couple of months ago, I have no idea if it would have moved me the same amount. It was just the perfect match of a book at the exact right time.
As soon as I started reading this book I was hooked. I loved the premise. A Top Chef contestant/star is offered an executive chef position at a winery in Oregon. Her girlfriend, Madison, moves with her since they negotiated free lodging which includes space for Madison’s art so she can focus on it full time. I loved the setting of a winery. There is something so romantic about it, and Shepard writes beautifully so you feel like you can taste the grapes and even feel the soil.
This book is in third person, with only one point of view of Madison, for about 98% of the book. It’s funny but the third person with one POV is my least favorite to read. If you are only going to have one POV, you might as well write in first so as readers we can really connect with the main character. But what happened here is that Shepard writes third so well that I felt completely connected to Madison. I felt like I was in her head and experiencing her feelings. I kept looking at the book and scratching my head asking “is this really third person?” I was very impressed by the writing.
I thought all the characters were well done. Madison, while she and I are almost nothing alike, I still found I completely understood her. She’s grieving and a bit depressed, which causes her to have trouble controlling her feelings like crying when she doesn’t want people to see it. I think most of us have been in a bad place before where we are trying to pretend to be strong, but something happens and that fake strength slips away and the tears want to come. Then you get mad at yourself for the slip and you desperately do not want anyone seeing the tears actually fall. Well, Shepard captured this type of moment and emotion perfectly. It was well written and really realistic for someone who is hurting.
Talk about hurting, this book had plenty of angst and drama which kept me very entertained. And because I was connected with the characters, I felt the drama all the more. There was one point that you can tell something bad is going to happen. My heart started pounding so hard causing my blood to rush that I felt physically uncomfortable. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, but I love when a good book can really make you feel. This book just had my feels all over the map and I loved every second of it.
I do have to mention that there are some slower parts to this book. There is quite a bit about wine and winemaking. And there is a lot with Madison and her art. Madison is a pottery artist. I personally have a big appreciation for artists. They just really impress me and I wish I had that kind of talent. And of course, can you really say that after watching the movie Ghost, that you haven’t wanted to take a turn on that wheel? I personally found all the art scenes to be very fascinating just like the wine scenes, but I can see them feeling a bit slow for some people who are not as interested.
This book really was a joy to read. I started this book after midnight, the day before, thinking I would read a chapter or two before I became sleepy. Soon it was almost 4 am and I had to force myself to put this down and get some sleep. This book just completely hooked me in and it did not want to let go. I do understand some of the more moderate ratings. If you are not a fan of wine or art, this might not be as good of a match for you. But for me this was everything I was hoping for and so much more. This was the right book at the right time and it’s going on my 2020 favorite list. 4.50 Stars.
A copy was given to me for an honest review.