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Flesh of the Peach

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  62 ratings  ·  32 reviews
An intense journey into and out of rage and grief, via sex and violence, following 27 year-old artist, Sarah Browne and set mostly in the American Southwest. In New York, the ending of Sarah's recent relationship with a married woman has coincided with the death of her estranged, aristocratic mother, leaving her a substantial amount of money and an unrecognised burden of t ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 20th 2017 by Freight Books
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Paul Fulcher
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, indy-presses
And then after that. She would make sure her life would no longer be a sentence fragment or shackled to metaphors, but a steady drawing forward and one day back, back home.

Freight Books is a small UK independent publisher “With a focus on publishing high quality literary fiction … [with] a commitment to compelling narratives, scrupulous editing, high quality production and imaginative marketing, supported by a strong and identifiable brand”.

Helen McClory’s Flesh of the Peach is her debut nove
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Flesh of the Peach is published by Freight Books which describes itself like this:

Freight Books is an award-winning UK-based independent publisher founded in September 2011 in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. With a focus on publishing high quality literary fiction, we also publish humour, general illustrated and narrative non-fiction and poetry. At the heart of all our projects is a commitment to compelling narratives, scrupulous editing, high quality production and imaginative marketing, support
Gumble's Yard
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018r, 2017
I believe that following the demise of its initial publisher, this book is available for a new publisher to take on. If this is true than I can only recommend it to any presses looking for books to publish in 2018, genuinely literary-form merging, with flash fiction skillfully melded into a novel.

She had left home when she was seventeen.
She has never really been back.
She had never really left …
She has been privileged to live in a mansion …
She couldn’t’ speak because every word she spoke was
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read. Review to follow. (Meantime if you're a UK reviewer you can request it on Netgalley.)
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: june-2017
Scottish author Helen McClory won both the Saltire Award and the Scottish First Book of the Year Award for her initial publication, a short story collection entitled On the Edges of Vision. Her debut novel, Flesh of the Peach, is described in its blurb as a 'stunning, intense and deeply moving investigation into the effects of toxic grief'. Kirsty Logan, whom I believe to be one of the most exciting voices in contemporary fiction, deems it 'bold and unflinching', comparing it to 'A Girl is a Hal ...more
Jessica Reads & Rambles
A combination of Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Emily Fridlund's History of Wolves, and Jade Sharma's Problems.

McClory's self-confessed unlikeable heroine is equal parts unreliable and erratic in her narration. The prose is searingly vulnerable, experimental, and often challenging. What starts out as a pretty atypical narrative (a grieving young woman embarking on a road trip to find herself), soon twists into a downward spiral of something more compellingly sinister.

I was provi
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, fiction
An exquisitely written debut novel. McClory crafts gorgeous sentences that pull you deeply into a novel that's about grief, fury, and the ghosts of the past. I interviewed McClory for Burning House Press. We talked about gender, unlikable women, and much more:
Jackie Law
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
“If I owned a horse, I feel like I would ride it until it dropped from exhaustian under me,’ Maud said […] ‘I wouldn’t stop until it had given me everything and taken me far further than it could.”

Flesh of the Peach, by Helen McClory, is a story of grief, selfishness, and the lasting damage caused by damaged people. The protagonist is Sarah Browne, a twenty-seven year old aspiring artist who, when the story opens, has been rejected by her married lover on the day she discovers her estranged moth
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Flesh of the Peach is the debut novel by Scottish author Helen McClory, and wow, what an intense and consuming read. It is about grief and the need to belong.

The novel revolves around twenty-seven-year-old Sarah Browne, an artist, whose estranged mother dies from cancer. Sarah is also dealing with the after effects of the end of her affair with a married woman. She suddenly finds herself alone and wealthy, with the burden of grief upon her shoulders that she does not know how to deal with, and
Kenny Mooney
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. A very real, very honest story, with a protagonist that speaks in a way I found very relatable. A stylish, poetic prose, combined with a engaging story which takes a genuinely surprising, unexpected turn. Seriously, I am rarely stunned when I read novels these days, but one particular moment in this caused me to stop, re-read, and then read it aloud to my partner. The direction this novel goes in, the territory it delves into, is dark and uncomfortable, and handled ...more
Sarah Rogers
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This debut novel should go on a shelf to be called Non Fluffy Female Characters to be joined by Gwendoline Riley's First Love and Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen, amongst others. Some beautiful, poetic writing and an interestingly constructed, episodic novel. Definitely not fluffy.
Ignacio Peña
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Flesh of the Peach is a beautiful examination of a young woman named Sarah Browne, who is troubled and displaced by the fractured upbringing from her mother, a famous painter that is willfully negligent of her maternal responsibilities, and how that relationship affects the rest of her life.

The writing is deliberate, and yet oftentimes fractured and sharp, much like the 102 short chapters that the book is comprised of. It’s interesting to see McClory, whose writing I am familiar with as predomi
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is just brilliant and beautiful. From the breathtaking sentences-level writing to the overall story. It's easy to assume that this is a familiar story of a young woman in New York, stumbling through her own narrative, but it becomes clear that there is nothing easy or familiar about Sarah. All of McClory's women are complex, dangerous, unlikeable and even queer! I was worried that McClory wouldn't be able to sustain her lyrical, haunting prose all the way through, but she DELIVERED.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
My son leant me this book. I have to confess it is not the usual type of book that I read. I absolutely loved the author's vivid descriptions of America, it is a country I have never visited but in reading this book, I felt I was accompanying Sarah on her travels. The one thing I did not get was what happened between Sarah and Theo. I do not want to say too much about that as it is part of the plot. I cannot offer much more of a review than this as there were some parts of the book I did not und ...more
Arja Salafranca
Apr 25, 2017 rated it liked it
‘They parted the way lovers should, with a little fine salting of regret, but not too much.’

This novel is dedicated to “all the unlikeable women in fiction and outwith it.” And the star of this novel, twenty-seven-year old Sarah Browne is certainly one of those unlikeable and quirky characters in fiction. At times I warmed to her, at others I felt myself growing distant. As the story opens she has just lost her famous and wealthy artist mother. From England, Sarah is currently in New York, strug
Ailsa Crum
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous book - literary in a fresh and engaging style. It's amusing, poetic and intriguing. The intrigue keeps you turning the pages and the poetry has you pausing to enjoy the language. I definitely recommend reading it at least once.
Ali George
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The dedication at the start of Flesh of the Peach is 'to all the unlikeable women in fiction and outwith it', which gives you a sense of what the author is going for with her female protagonist Sarah Browne. This is a story about grief and anger and what comes after, but Eat Pray Love it is not.

When we meet Sarah she is going through some stuff. Crying at the top of the Empire State Building, in fact. In another book, this would surely be her meet cue. But it's not. The death of her mother has
Wendy Burke
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Helen McClory has written a sublime novel. The raw, elipsed emotion and humanity of the writing hooked me from the start. The poetic rhythms of McClory’s language and her rendering of memory, violence, sensuality and human feeling make Flesh of the Peach a gripping read. The writing really is exquisite and for a reader that is the true pleasure. Mclory’s protagonist Sarah Browne is remarkable - not since Frank in Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory have I encountered such an unsettling presence in lite ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
McClory writes like a poet, which she is, though I don't think she's called herself that for some years, being known for her flash fiction. Somewhat superficially, her writing reminded here me of Lauren Groff - so vivid and fresh. I couldn't even be jealous at how finely it was written, like I usually am with a good book - I just sort kept up with folding corners and marveling at all the polished little gems that lay there. This was a fascinating and unique look at guilt and the ways we are capa ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
There's something dreamlike about this whole book, but it isn't fuzzy as that might imply. The writing is pointed and particular about memories and grief; likeableness and conflict; sex, eroticism and disappointment. In particular, the sense and descriptions of place are hypnotic and true about being alone in a strange place - and alone in a familiar one surrounded by family. I wouldn't say this is a loveable book, but it is really compelling and Sarah is a complex and fascinating heroine.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Very intense character study and a look into toxic grief and anger issues. Beautiful prose too. The only fault I could find was the choice of POV. It made be feel rather detached from the character and therefore could never completely immerse myself in the story. Such a personal tale I think maybe would have benefited from a 1st person POV.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been struggling to find the right adjectives that capture how I feel about Flesh of the Peach. It is achingly beautiful in its descriptions and poetic prose. The story is dark, but the writing makes it sparkle. Sarah is an interesting character, callous and unemotional, but not uninterested in the world around her. The short chapters and occasional interludes of how Sarah contemplates spending her inheritance keep the pages turning. Can't wait to read McClory's next!
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Flesh of the Peach is an unblinking, brutal, absolutely beautiful novel that looks at grief, loss, and the scars and echoes from a childhood spent loving and loathing a difficult parent. An excellent read.
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book was a little too intelligent for me. I kept reading because I was interested to see how the characters developed but felt lost most of the time.
T.R. North
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was a wild ride from start to finish!
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review to follow in my blog sometime this week! Meanwhile you can also read a copy on NetGalley or purchase the hardcopy after the 25th of April! :)

Full review can be found here -
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel. Dedicated to unlikeable women and our narrator Sarah is, if not that exclusively, certainly unfathomable, contrary and elusive. I'd go anywhere with this character and author, however,as the writing is so vivid, rewarding and surprising. This book messed with my head in a good way and leaves a smouldering shudder of satisfaction.Ta. Pete.
Clare Fisher
I loved this book for its unashamedly difficult female characters and its prose: McClory doesn't mess around with trying to make you 'like' her characters. She does not mess around at all: there wasn't a word out of place. There were so many sentences which made me see and feel life from a completely new and strange and poetic angle. This book will stay with me for a long time.
June Taylor
Enjoyed slipping through time, memory and place in this novel. The writing is beautiful and evocative and would love to read more of Helen McClory's books.
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Helen McClory lives in Edinburgh and grew up between there and the isle of Skye. Her first collection, On the Edges of Vision, was published by Queen's Ferry Press in August 2015 and won the Saltire First Book of the Year 2015. Her second collection, Mayhem & Death, was written for the lonely and published in March 2018.

There is a moor and a cold sea in her heart.

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