The Last Words of Madeline Anderson

Louise Walters was kind enough to send me a copy of Helen Kitson’s ‘The Last Words of Madeline Anderson’ to review.

Louise Walters Books is an indie publisher that focuses on publishing the best in adult fiction across all genres.


Once upon a time Gabrielle Price wrote and published an extraordinary novel.  

But twenty years on her literary star has dimmed, her “work of genius” is all but forgotten, and no further novels have materialized. She now lives an unremarkable life: middle-aged, living alone in the sleepy village she grew up in, and working as a housekeeper for the local vicar. Her lonely existence is dominated by memories of her best friend Madeleine, who died young, in tragic and mysterious circumstances.  

Gabrielle’s quiet world is turned upside down when she meets and befriends Simon – young, attractive, a would-be writer, and enthusiastic fan of the astonishing novel that Gabrielle published all those years ago. Charmed and flattered, she recklessly invites him into her home and her heart. But Simon is mysterious and manipulative, and it’s not long before he forces Gabrielle to confront the demons in her past. Gabrielle’s obsession begins to destroy her carefully cultivated life, and she comes to feel increasingly threatened by Simon’s presence. Who is he? Why did he seek her out? And what does he really want? 

Review, 4/5

I really enjoyed this book, it’s the first piece of fiction I’ve read in months and had that can’t put this down, must keep reading, feeling.

The story follows Gabrielle’s story or life, but the entire plot as the title suggests, is consumed with the ghost of her teenage best friend, Madeline who committed suicide during her time at University. It’s a story of jealously, idolising a lost loved one, and questioning the ethics around the death of the author and the ownership of a story. Who deserves to tell your story? Does anyone have the right to tell yours? Is it right to publish a work posthumously, under an alternative identity etc.

I was also surprised by some interesting twists and turns; Simon’s identity is quite a slow burner. He visits Gabrielle as a budding English student desperate to absorb her literary talent, and within a week has comfortably settled in as a lodger that tempts and twists his relationship with Gabrielle to get what he wants. Her trust, her time, and her true story.

The middle of the novel was slightly slow, and I wasn’t sure where the story was going, which meant I was pleasantly surprised by the events that unfolded.

I would say this is a novelist a moving story about the difficulty of childhood friendships, the hold they have on us, and after Gabrielle confronts the loss of Madeline Anderson both literally and spiritually, there’s movement in both her own story, the novel itself and her own physical words on the page as she begins to write again.

For any writers this is also a good read as it’s quite meta, a book about the difficulty of being a writer and writing good books, or writing another novel after a best seller.

Definitely worth a read.

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  • Hannah says:

    This sounds like such an interesting read! I was thinking the other day about how long it has been since the last time I read a fiction book and realised it has been several months so I really need to dig out my Kindle and start reading on the train to work again. My next book to read is Catcher by Kalyn Nicholson – how about you? xx

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