The Origins of Iris – Beth Lewis

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‘I opened my eyes and the woman wearing my face opened hers at the same time.’ 

Iris flees New York City, and her abusive wife Claude, for the Catskill Mountains. When she was a child, Iris and her father found solace in the beauty and wilderness of the forest; now, years later, Iris has returned for time and space to clear her head, and to come to terms with the mistakes that have led her here. But what Iris doesn’t expect in her journey of survival and self-discovery is to find herself – literally.

Trapped in a neglected cabin deep in the mountains, Iris is grudgingly forced to come face to face with a seemingly prettier, happier and better version of herself. Other Iris made different choices in life and love. But is she all she seems? Can she be trusted? What is she hiding?

As a storm encroaches, threatening both their lives, time is running out for them to discover why they have been brought together, and what it means for their futures.

A few years ago I read The Wolf Road and proceeded to pester pretty much everyone who asked (and several who didn’t) that they needed to read it. It’s stunning. If you’ve somehow escaped my nagging over the past five years, you should read it.

That was then, and this is now, and it was with no small excitement that I found a copy of The Origins Of Iris landing on my doorstep earlier in the summer. I took it away with me on holiday and dived right in.

Remember earlier when I said that The Wolf Road was good? Like, really good?

The Origins of Iris is somehow even better. Beth Lewis has somehow taken one of my favourite books of recent years and written another book which bumped it down the list.

It’s split into two timelines, the one in the now following Iris as she flees from her abusive partner into the Catskills, the other in the past, in the lead up to her marriage. Lewis deftly weaves these two different strands together over the course of the book, revealing Iris to us, and indeed herself bit by bit.

Then Iris meets another woman at the cabin in the woods. A woman whose face looks familiar. Another Iris. Another facet to the story.

Lewis’ writing is just a joy to read. It’s wonderful. Dark, raw and startlingly original, it will linger long in the memory after you turn the last page. It took me a while to recover myself after reading.

The Origins of Iris by Beth Lewis is published by Hodder Studio. Huge thanks to the publisher for the advance copy for review.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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