Sherry & Narcotics, by Nina-Marie Gardner – Book Review

Nina-Marie Gardner’s debut novel is a riveting read. Mary Cartwright has just finished her graduate studies and taken a position helping students re-write their college essays to improve their chances for admission into top universities. Mary is in a very fragile place after the death of her father, distance in her relationship with her mother, and a tenuous sobriety which has long slipped away but for her hiding it from her family. It’s under such inauspicious timing, while living in London, that Mary starts up a correspondence with a dreamy poet, but from the very beginning things are far from how they appear.

Gardner’s writing is ridiculously addictive, and though I only picked it up to skim a few pages for a small preview, I was hard-pressed to put it aside to finish what I had been originally reading. Sherry & Narcotics is an incredibly fidgety and angsty story that delves so completely into the life and the mind of an addict that if you’re not careful, you will slowly drift from watching the train wreck to being in a seat on the train. It sucks you into the interior life of the main character. I really wanted her to have what she wanted out of life and for her to get her happy ending, even though I could very clearly see that what she wanted was probably not the best thing for her (or anyone else for that matter!), but such was the case with Mary, and her tortured and doomed love affair with silver-tongued poet, Jake Potter.

Gardner excels at capturing the details of hard struggle with a drinking problem- the careful rationing to which Mary can never adhere, the compromises which are then compromised- but the brilliance of the novel reveals itself in the way she reveals minute nuances of emotion. Even if you’re not a raging alcoholic, you’ve probably been in love, or loved the wrong guy, or tried to break a bad habit, or had some regrets. The pitch perfect illustration of these emotions and the immediacy of the language makes this not only a visceral read, but a compelling one. Neither Mary or her circumstances fall into the category of being easily forgotten. Highly Recommended.

Read More Reviews At: Reading is My Superpower | Monsters and Critics | Kristen’s Book Reviews

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 22 Britannia Road, by Amanda Hodgkinson   Book Review

Review Copy.

12 thoughts on “Sherry & Narcotics, by Nina-Marie Gardner – Book Review

  • May 19, 2011 at 10:15 PM
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    That one sounds interesting; I’ll hit up the library.

  • May 19, 2011 at 10:48 PM
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    Definitely a catchy title! And I do like reads which pull me in the way you describe. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • May 19, 2011 at 10:48 PM
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    Glad you liked this one! I have it on my shelf but was on the fence – your review pushed me off the fence!

  • May 19, 2011 at 10:53 PM
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    Glad to see this one is so addictive, kind of like the stuff that’s in the title, hah! I’m looking forward to reading this one soon!

  • May 20, 2011 at 12:55 AM
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    Well if you highly recommend it then I’ll have to give it shot!

  • May 20, 2011 at 6:01 AM
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    Oh, I love this! Love the cover, the title and the premise. It looks dark and quirky enough that I might just have to go find it. Thanks for the stellar review. :O)

  • May 20, 2011 at 7:27 AM
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    I book that sucks you in like that is definitely worth exploring. It sounds fascinating and I wonder how the author was able to get into the mind of an addict so well.

  • May 20, 2011 at 8:24 AM
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    You write the most compelling reviews, and even though I have not heard of this book before, I now want to go out and grab myself a copy. I like the description of “fidgety” and have never heard a book described quite like that before. Thanks for sharing this one with us!

  • May 20, 2011 at 8:49 AM
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    I love how you describe this book. “Ridiculously addictive”, “fidgety” and “angsty”. I imagine it is not easy to get sucked into the mind of an addict, but if an author can do that, then there is talent. I’ll keep this one in mind!

  • May 20, 2011 at 9:41 PM
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    Sounds wonderful! I am sometimes wary of downward-spiral type books, because I’m nervous they’ll be too depressing, but you’re making this sound so good!

  • May 21, 2011 at 10:09 PM
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    I just finished this one up today, and I haven’t written my review yet. I did find it REALLY compelling. I picked it up on a whim and was totally sucked in. Review coming this week!

  • May 30, 2011 at 7:24 AM
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    Wonderful review, Nicole! The book somehow reminds me of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. I loved your comment – “if you’re not careful, you will slowly drift from watching the train wreck to being in a seat on the train”. So beautifully put! It looks like the author’s style is quite powerful.

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