Book Review – The Sculptress by Minette Walters

First published, 1993

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

We hadn’t long been in Devon when the BBC broadcasted a new crime drama called The Sculptress. I don’t remember now how I convinced my parents to let me watch it (I was not quite fourteen) but the story has stayed with me, just humming in the back of my head as both an incredible story and a truly great piece of television.

And so, twenty-five years later, I had a rummage through my Amazon Wishlist and went on a clicking spree. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read this exceptional novel.

Olive Martin, a young woman, very heavy and overlooked in her day-to-day life, languishes in prison having been convicted of the murder and bloody dismemberment of her mother and sister. Five years in to a twenty-five year sentence, Olive (nicknamed ’The Sculptress’ by her fellow inmates as well as the prison staff) receives a visit from a ho-humming writer.

Roz Leigh hasn’t had a book idea in quite some time. Her agent is nagging her to get something down in writing because it’s a matter of time before her publisher drops her like a rock. When pleading and threats don’t work, Roz’s agent goes ahead and sets up a meeting between the bookless author and the psychopathic Sculptress. But will Roz cope with the monster she sees? And how can she save Olive from her fate?

What an awesome story. I couldn’t put it down. Thank God for my butterfly brain because I’d forgotten most of the major details and key plots points. In fact, I only really remembered Pauline Quirke from the BBC version (also excellent, watch it wherever it is available) so the whole story was a revelation to me. The intricacy within the story is brilliantly imaginative, the characters are superb and the storytelling is a thing of beauty. Yes, it’s grisly. It’s amazing. Minette Walters is remarkable. Read this.