The Miseducation of Evie Epworth – Matson Taylor

It is the summer of 1962 and sixteen-year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she be?

Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Guides, cows, lost mothers, lacrosse and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Brontë, Shirley MacLaine, the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon-to-be stepmother, a manipulative and money-grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo-and-set drudgery at the stinky local salon.
Luckily Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her future from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly it is she is meant to be.
Moving, inventive and achingly funny, with an all-star cast of bold-as-brass characters, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is a perfectly pitched modern fairytale about love, friendship and following your dreams while having a lot of fun along the way.

Book Information: Print length: 381 pages. Publisher: Scribner UK. Publication Date: 14 July 2020

Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire (the flat part, not the Brontë part). He comes from farming stock and spent an idyllic childhood surrounded by horses, cows, bicycles, and cheap ice-cream.

Matson now lives in London, and works simultaneously as a novelist and design historian. He studied at the Royal College of Art and has taught at museums and universities around the world. He has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial, and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers. He gets back to Yorkshire as much as possible, mainly to see family and friends but also to get a reasonably-priced haircut.

He has always loved telling stories and, after writing extensively about luxury goods manufacturing during World War 2 (think glow-in-the-dark fascinators & alligator-skin gas-mask cases) he decided to enrol on the Faber Academy ‘Writing A Novel’ course.

In 2016 he started writing his first novel, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth, inspired by his work at the V&A museum. Published in April 2021 by Simon & Schuster, the book was chosen for both the Richard & Judy Bookclub and the BBC Radio 2 Bookclub, and went on to become a bestseller.

His second book, All About Evie, is a sequel, charting the messy end of the 1960s and the choppy beginnings of the 1970s. It was published in hardback in July 2022, and is now available to pre-order as a paperback.

Matson is now working on his third novel, which, like his first two, will be a funny book about serious things.

My Review:

I hadn’t heard of this book until very recently and when I started to see members of my book club recommend it my FOMO kicked in and I downloaded it without reading the blurb or even looking at the cover!!

Within the first chapter I was laughing out loud and grinning ear to ear and knew that Evie Epworth was going to be one of my new favourite characters. For those of you who know me, you will know that I have suffered with Bovinophobia* all my life and all I can say is that I am glad I didn’t see the cover before reading it as it would have definitely put me off.

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is set in Yorkshire in the early 1960’s and centres around 16 year old Evie Epworth who lives with her father, Arthur and his live-in housekeeper/fiance Christine on the family farm. Evie’s on the cusp of womanhood and doesn’t quite know what kind of woman she will be. Her mother died when she was a baby and the only female role models in her life are her wonderful elderly next door neighbour Mrs Scott-Pym and the utterly despicable soon to be stepmother Christine.

Matson Taylor has brought to life some truly memorable and wonderful characters with his vivid descriptions and wonderful narrative. I was able to step back to the 60’s and watch Evie navigate her journey through life with the background music from Adam Faith and The Beatles.

There were some really moving moments which made me shed a little tear, especially when concerning her beloved dead mother, her father who is obviously in over his head with the gold-digging revolting Christine, and her unconditional friendship with Mrs Scott-Pym who treats Evie like a daughter.

The humour was spot on, the descriptions were so detailed, the dialogue was wonderful and I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a guaranteed feel good book and I would 100% recommend to everyone who loves character driven books.

It hasn’t helped my phobia, but it made me laugh and I know I won’t forget “that scene” in a long time.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*Bovinophobia, more popularly known as Cows Phobia, is a fear of cows that affects people of all ages – varying from mild uneasiness to full-blown panic attacks. Even pictures can invoke the same response in a person suffering from this phobia.

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