These Thin Lines by Milena McKay
These Thin Lines by Milena McKay

These Thin Lines by Milena McKay

Another breathtaking book by Milena McKay

Vi Courtenay doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives for the first day of her internship – an internship chosen for her by her family – at Lilien Haus of Fashion but it’s certainly not to literally fall at the feet of the most beautiful woman she’s ever met. Chiara Conti may not be happy but she’s mostly accepted her fate and when she does wonder about it, she’s not convinced she deserves happiness anyway. Vi’s Cinderella-like arrival in her life topples more than the house of cards that is Lilien Haus.


Milena McKay doesn’t write the same book twice. She can write age gaps and ice queens in all of them (though there’s no ice queen in this one) and there will be no confusion, all the characters have their own personality, their own way of speaking, of standing, of acting. The tone is different from one book to the other and yet they’re all very clearly McKay’s, with varying degrees of angst and intensity, A Whisper of Solace being at the top of that scale so far. I don’t think comparisons can be appropriate but for the sake of helping readers decide whether this (outstanding) book would be a good fit for them, let’s say These Thin Lines is in the vicinity of The Headmistress. Again, it’s very different, but, especially at the beginning, there’s this same sense of humour McKay is very good at hiding behind the pain. There’s yearning and longing for days in These Thin Lines yet not the same level of introspection McKay had Neve Blackthorne take us through. There are also irresistible bursts of light. This being a McKay novel though, the lightness is deceptive and depth unveils itself progressively.

These Thin Lines by Milena McKayAs with Clare Ashton, as with Anna Burke, as with G Benson, McKay’s books are works of love, which translates into beautiful writing. In These Thin Lines in particular, the love the author has for Chiara Conti is palpable. And understandable. Chiara is wonderful. Talented, humble, beautiful, vulnerable yet strong. Neurodivergent too, which adds more than one layer to an already complex being. Vi Courtenay is of course also captivating, since Chiara wouldn’t fall for someone who isn’t. I felt for her in her relationship with her father, and when whatever could have been with Chiara came crashing down on her. In a perfect world, the ray of sunshine she is to others would deserve to be free of clouds. That, unfortunately, is not the world we live in, nor is it – fortunately this time – the world McKay writes.

Unsurprisingly, the story is more than marvellous and complex characters. The plot is substantial and twists abound. Good people are fallible and villains unpredictable. These Thin Lines tells of unrequited love, of inescapable love, of insecurities and humility, of beautiful souls and vulnerability in the face of reality, but above all, it tells of forgiveness, of unconditional forgiveness, the kind that’s all the harder and all the more valuable because it’s given despite the recipient being (or perceived as being) at fault.

While The Headmistress or A Whisper of Solace started at top speed, These Thin Lines gains momentum as the story progresses, sweet and funny at first then more and more intense. With each chapter (you’re going to want to pay attention to the chapter titles, by the way), it increases in power and, simply put, gets better and better.

And because it’s a McKay book, once the whirlwind gets going, it never really slows down. Books like these, books that bring with them this surge of adrenaline, are my favourites because I can feel my breath being taken away as I read, and I love that feeling. As I’ve come to expect from the author, there’s a lot happening, there are almost no breaks, no slowing the pace long enough for the reader to catch their breath and yet it’s the right amount of a lot, it’s never too much, never unnecessary or confusing.

On top of all that, the story takes place in two of my favourite cities (Paris and New York), Chiara is Italian – and I don’t care what people say about French being the language of love, it’s Italian for me – and there’s a gorgeous first kiss scene. And a cat. A deliciously petty cat. While I love that my own very real cats are sweet babies, I delight in literary cats being haughty.

These Thin Lines introduces new characters and brings back familiar faces, several of whom deserve their own books. So many possibilities that, in McKay’s hands, could become just as iconic as DeVor, Magdalene, Neve and, now, Chiara. 5 stars.

These Thin Lines by Milena McKayThese Thin Lines by Milena McKay

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