Book Review – As Deep As Her Skin by M. F. Graham

First published, 2019

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

June Redfern is an exceptionally beautiful teenage girl, living at home with her devoted father and a stepmother who is only a handful of years older than her. Grace, the stepmother, has known June’s father since his wife committed suicide. June rails against the new family unit and, after an altercation with a schoolmistress in detention (during which June heard some hard things about her mother and so took the cane to her horrified teacher), leaves home with the sweet Welsh maid who works for her family. Finding herself in 1930s London, June’s impulsive nature leads her into all manner of troubles, but her attractiveness secures her success in beauty competitions on a local and national scale. However, young June is too young for the company she keeps and thus, follows a path of deception which leads her directly to the Old Bailey. But with no alibi and a history of lying, will June retain her freedom or languish in the cells?

The story is an epic, very well-written. I’m usually intimidated by big books and at 654 pages, this was a rare venture into epic fiction for me. The characters well-observed, the writing intricate. Although not altogether likeable, June is a compelling character and I found myself thinking about her when I wasn’t reading.

Most of the writing is excellent, though, in some instances the story feels over-written, with the same information coming twice.
“‘Oh sorry Miss, I’ll come back later,’ Molly apologised for her intrusion.”
From Part 1, 3.25pm 20th August 1935, As Deep As Her Skin by M. F. Grabham

Main downfall for me was this: off of. I genuinely can’t bear this preposition. Off will do. As much as the addition of ‘of’ might work within the context of dialogue, it honestly puts my teeth on edge and there are a fair few instances of it in the story.
“Springing out of bed she grabbed her dressing gown from off of a nearby chair; struggling to put it on, June began her rapid descent of the stairway.”
Part 7, 3.45pm, 5th June 1940, As Deep As Her Skin by M. F. Grabham

That said, I look forward to reading this book again and would happily recommend it to anyone who reads.