First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday – Hungry, The Stars and Everything by Emma Jane Unsworth


Last week I reviewed Emma Jane Unsworth’s Animals. It’s been one of my favourite books this year (up there with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma and The Goldfinch). However, Unsworth’s debut novel was Hungry, The Stars and Everything and it has a food theme – I know, right? How did it escape my attention until now?!

Here’s how it begins –

“I was eleven years old when I realised what I wanted most out of life: More. This epiphany came at around 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve, 1991. I checked my too-tight cartoon wristwatch, a present from my brother (bought by my mother) two Christmases ago, and then I silently made my way downstairs, holding my breath and stepping on the outer edges of the stairs to avoid the creaks.

To put it simply, I was fed up with being good. It felt as though everywhere I went – school, church, even sitting around the dinner table – I was being judged by everyone around me, mostly by teachers and parents, but sometimes by other children, too. It was though I always had to be on my guard, always watching what I said, how I stood, or used my fork. The scrutiny was almost unbearable.”

It’s worth noting that the chapters are arranged as a menu beginning with vintage champagne and green tea shrimp with nano-lime, to a deconstructed Lancashire hotpot and roast pheasant with spiced prune mincemeat, and finishing with a 25 year old Glenmorangie scotch and rosemary truffles. Needless to say this book is so far up my alley that regardless of what anyone thinks, I’ll be reading it.

Does it appeal to you? Do you go on ‘author binges’ (where you read one book by an author and then read everything they’ve ever written)?

Join in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday over at Bibliophile by the Sea.


17 responses

    • I will sometimes go on author binges, but have to be careful not to burn out on them. That has happened in the past and then I had to wait awhile before continuing with one of their works. This sounds delightful, and so different. I would keep reading.

      • Agree – and you end up comparing each of their books which is not always a good thing (compared to if you’d read it at another time).

    • I do most of my reading lying in bed. And one of my pet hates? Eating in bed! That’s probably I very, very lucky thing 😉

      I try to spread my reading of one author out but I’m not that good at actually sticking to it! A few years ago I had a Jonathan Tropper binge – that was my last big one.

  1. I’ve got this book on a shelf waiting. I confess I bought it because Emma Unsworth was the girlfriend of Guy Garvey, lead singer with Elbow, who I love. He’s a fabulous lyricist do I wanted to see if she was as creative and clever as him – sounds like she is – so I’ll try to take it off the shelf and actually read it now!!!!

    • Ah! That explains why Twitter suggested I start following Gus Garvey – I was thinking Who? Why? I bought Animals because it had attracted some prize attention in Britain (not sure which prize). As soon as I was finished it, I looked up her other work, only to discover that I already had this book on my Kindle :-/ I must have picked it out as a ‘foodie reading challenge’ title. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it based on the strength of Animals.

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