First Rites Reviews


The first round of reviews are in for Sophie Coulombeau’s Rites.

‘A compelling and provocative multi-stranded narrative with a high-concept hook, this is a story told in many voices which is always risky but Coulombeau pulls it off beautifully. In a further challenge to the reader, the novel also comes down on the side of there being no such thing as objective truth when it comes to different people’s memories of the same experience. Coulombeau’s unflinchingly clear-headed analysis of the human psyche is deeply refreshing.’ – Sunday Express

‘The reader is taken convincingly in one direction then the other – implying that ultimately, the only truth we ever know is what we feel to be true, even if that is a product of self-delusion. [Coulombeau] Makes fully plausible the shifts in affection, allegiance, even desire, of her young characters, and shows how these shifts can be both terrifyingly quick and deeply felt.’  The Independent on Sunday

‘There is a a clear-sighted lack of sentimentality about the way Sophie allows her characters to expose themselves through their own words. It is utterly un-put-downable. Don’t even pick it up if you have to get up early for work the next morning.’ – The Press

‘Breathtaking originality and verve. Sophie Coulombeau is the genuine article.’ Ian Kirkpatrick

‘We are the wiser as citizens to have been educated by the writer… Immensely readable and lucid. ’ – Dig

‘Honest… human… despairing… it broke my heart a little bit. A damn fine book.’ Mark Allen, Blogomatic 3000!

‘Coulombeau’s great strength in Rites is in how she controls the flow of information, and plays with and against readers’ expectations. So there’s a wonderful sense of uncertainty – the feeling that, even when we think we know everything, perhaps we don’t after all. Add to this some insightful observations – on growing up, falling in love, and more besides – and you have a fine debut novel.’ – Follow the Thread

‘Terrific. A story that’s intriguing, puzzling and entirely gripping.’ – Philip Pullman

‘Original and gripping, this novel stands out from the crowd. I’m sure Sophie Coulombeau is destined to become a literary star of the future.’ – Sophie Hannah

‘Rites is a powerful read that has you questioning the wisdom of any adult and the innocence of any child. The story Coulombeau tells is an everyman tale of desire, friendship and betrayal. Behind it is a mind that takes nothing at face value: not love, not desire and not the violence that we are capable of doing to one another.’ – Fiona Shaw

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