Eloise is an erratic, faded fashionista. Bradley is a glum but wily teenager. In need of help to write her racy 1960s memoirs, the former ‘shock frock’ fashion guru tolerates his common ways. Unable to remember his name, she calls him Boy. Desperate to escape a brutal home life, he puts up with her bossiness and confusing notes. Both guard secrets. How did she lose her fame and fortune? What is he scheming – beyond getting his hands on her bank card? And just what’s hidden in that mysterious locked room?
Note To Boy
Bradley on Eloise:
“She’s no fluffy-haired Werther’s Original sweet old lady – and that’s the truth.”
Eloise on Bradley:
“Nose, biggish; chin, weakish – though that could have been my varifocals.”
Ewan Lawrie –
Want to know what’s really difficult? Writing a comic novel, that’s what. I know, I’ve tried. Just to make it a little more difficult, have two first person narrators give their version of events. Well that’s what Sue Clark has done with her new novel, ‘Note to Boy’, published by Unbound. Want to know how she got on?
It’s fabuloso, darling. The tale of a faded fashion-ista drinking herself to death in her London flat and the council estate boy who comes to ‘do for’ her. We’re not talking a London crime novel here, he just helps her out with her housekeeping. Oh, and he’s helping her with her memoirs, too. These are the two highly contrasting narrative voices who tell us the story throughout. Eloise is a horror, but oh so funny: imagine a combination of Brenda’s mum from Dinnerladies, Baby Jane and Mrs Malaprop. Never has someone so self-absorbed been less self-aware. I’ll say no more, as I don’t want to spoil any of the jokes. Bradley is a ‘rough diamond, wrong-side-of-the-tracks kind of guy’, but is in no way clichéd or trite.
Never one to drop one mangled name when a dozen will do, half the fun is working out what or who Eloise means as she rambles into her dictaphone and at Bradley.
This is a seriously funny book. Buy it, if you need a laugh – as Eloise might have said “It’s a real humbugger”.
Nicola Smith –
I raced through this novel, quickly captivated by the unusual premise, apparent mismatch of characters, and pacy dialogue. It had me smiling from the first page, managing to combine surface humour with a deeper, more thoughtful subtext – two lost souls forging an unlikely bond and giving meaning to each others’ lives.
Both lead characters are well drawn, and Eloise’s quirks and turns of phrase are often laugh out loud funny. The attention to detail as Eloise recounts the height of her fame in the 60s is eye-opening and entertaining, and I can only imagine the author is drawing on some of her own experience to bring such scenes so vividly alive…
Note to Boy is well written, insightful, touching and amusing, and I highly recommend it.
Alice McVeigh (verified owner) –
Note to Boy, written by a BBC comedy scriptwriter, is funny – but also poignant. A culture clash, one could visualise it as a two-hander (Driving Miss Daisy meets Duet for One?) I loathe spoilers, so will just give the bare bones: Eloise (an aging, washed-up, once famous fashion designer/hoarder living in West London) hires ‘Boy (a near-illiterate no-hoper youth with OCD, born on the wrong side of the tracks). The pair wind up influencing each other in unexpected ways. and there are several very clever plot twists. Sue Clark writes very stylishly, particularly for Eloise, who can have a vivid turn of phrase. Definitely an ‘odd couple’ – definitely a good book.
Jude Fowler –
What a joy to read a comic novel that’s actually funny. A novel with characters I cared about and with a well-crafted plot that delights to the final page. Spoiler alert! This isn’t the cliched odd couple relationship, ending in redemption, tearful hugs and declarations of love. She’s like the monstrous love child of Patsy Stone and The Lady in the Van and might elicit sympathy if she didn’t repel everyone. He’s an unloved, ill-educated teenager whose miserable life has nothing. And yet when their lives collide there’s a spark of something … Sue Clark’s Note to Boy is a wonderfully satisfying read, showing the possibilities of an undreamed-of future for two people at either end of adult life. With plenty of gin and laughs, too this is my kind of book. Highly recommended.
Susan Allen –
I loved this – I read it in three sittings and stayed up to 3.30 am to finish it because I had to know what happened to Miss E and Bradley. I could see the characters so clearly – and I really cared about them . Eloise is a wonderful creation – and the narrative is funny without ever being cruel. There are some wonderful walk on characters as well.
Imogen Matthews –
A fabulous read that weaves together the lives of two most unlikely characters, both eccentric, lonely and sad in their own way. Sue Clark has a way with words that make Eloise and Bradley both so likeable, that you end up rooting for them right from the start. The characters simply jump off the page and are totally convincing, even down to several cringeworthy and hilarious episodes. But what lies behind the humour is a commentary about the descent into old age and how society is so ready to turn its back on people who have no one close to care for them. Had it not been for Bradley, himself a social misfit, would Eloise have been able to mine her past with such devastating results? Clever stuff. I loved it!