I have been waiting for so long to read this book. Book signings are amazing but when they are held nearly a month after the book is released it is so hard to wait to read the book. Especially when said book is written by Carrie Hope Fletcher, singer, actress (currently touring the UK with The Addams Family musical) and author. I loved her previous fiction novel, On The Other Side, and when she announced that All That She Can See would also be magical realism, only with a weirder twist, I was immediately excited.
Part of my excitement also came from Fletcher’s relative secrecy surrounding this novel in her vlogs. In terms of character names and some plot points, Fletcher was quite open about the details of On the Other Side. we all knew the names of Evie, Vincent and Elinor and both the catalyst and content of Evie’s quest before the book was released, minus the spoilers and specifics obviously. Compared to this, All That She Can See has been kept under lock and key, and I think I actually preferred it. It meant that when names other than Cherry and Chase came into the story and even when it was revealed exactly what Chase could see, I was excited and dragged in even more. Just a little note here, I’m going to be talking about specifics of this book, more so that Fletcher has in her videos so there may be one or two unavoidable spoilers but I will try my best not to give too much away.
All That She Can See follows the adventures of Cherry Redgrave as she traverses life with an extraordinary ability. She is able to see the negative emotions (Meddlums) which follow everyone around in day-to-day life. Unable to simply sit and watch, Cherry also discovers that she has the ability to infuse her baking with the emotions which have the capability to ease these bad emotions and she uses this to open bakeries and help the people around her. It is while she is in Plymouth that she meets Chase Masters who has a similar ability to hers however he is vitally different in that he can see the good emotions which follow everyone around.
The specifics of what Chase can see is one of the specifics which Fletcher kept close to her and I’m so glad that she did. I love the fact that Cherry and Chase are two sides of the same coin in terms of their abilities and reactions to them. This means that Chase’s darker moments are very interesting and I sort of wished that they got more time in the narrative. However, I understand that Cherry’s positivity needs to be what takes him out of these darker moments which further continues their pairing as two sides of the same coin. This doesn’t mean that they are a completely black and white couple in terms of their function. I was a really big fan of Cherry’s development through her ‘back-story’. She is a character who is rare in literature, someone who is allowed to have both a tragic and happy upbringing at the same time. Granted the majority of it falls into the tragic category, which I’m hoping to discuss in another blog, but she allows the happier parts to give her a drive and ambition that is just fascinating to read in the earlier parts of this book.
Peter is a character who wasn’t mentioned at all by Fletcher in any of her vlogs and I feel that he is the perfect example of why I’m glad that she kept some parts of this book secret. I loved Peter’s character and simply would have just liked more time with him but his final scene in the ‘childhood chapters’ of the book really struck a chord with me. It wasn’t the first ‘weird’ part of the book but at the time it was the most striking and creepy scene so far and I loved it!
In my opinion, this book feels like it is divided into two parts. The first part of the book centers on Cherry’s discoveries concerning her abilities, the towns she visits and opens bakeries within and her meeting Chase. The second half of this book is concerned with the Guild and Cherry’s childhood friend Peter both of which aid Cherry and Chase, in their own ways, to find out about both the origins and the futures of their abilities. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about the amount of time spent with Velina and Danior as the main antagonists as they are in first part. This is simply because I find the Guild to be a very interesting concept as an organization and it holds so much information within the second half of the book that I just wish that this part could have been developed throughout more of the book. I think that getting the chance to explore the intricacies and practices of the guild even further would have been very intriguing. This split down the middle also means that the cast is quite big so I feel that looking at it as if it is a semi-split narrative, not definitively just thematically, then it may be easier to keep track of who is a major part of the story at any one time. However, if you have read books like Giovanna Fletcher’s Billy and Me then the first half of this book will give you a very good introduction into Fletcher’s ability to write stunning magical realism.
In both of these ‘halves’, and throughout the book in general, there are far more metaphorical conclusions in this book rather than literal and physical conclusions. If you are someone who likes a book to have a solid and complete conclusion where everything is sorted then this may not be the book for you. Instead, if you are interested in the discussion of the manipulation, use and need for emotions in everyday human life and would prefer to hear the characters thoughts rather than having one solid conclusion to everything then this is certainly the book for you.
This book is not inherently a quick read but it can be one if you want it to be. In my experience it was and this actually made the narrative feel very quick as events piled on one after the other. This isn’t a negative in my eyes it is just something to be aware of due to the nature of Cherry’s relationship with Case and the split nature of the narrative. If you want it to feel like Cherry and Chase’s friendship develops over a period of time, rather than feeling like a quick development, then I would recommend taking your time to read this book.
Overall, I think that All That She Can See is certainly an intriguing development on from On The Other Side. I’m very glad to see the foundation of Fletcher’s astounding ability to write magical realism be founded in the weirder and slightly darker side in this novel. I loved the concept and will certainly be giving this book a second read in the future.
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