The Confession is a story of three women, their fates and the complexity of finding out who you are. Elise Morceau, a young and bit lost girl in her early 20s meets Constance Holden, a successful writer in her late 30s whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. They fall in love with each other instantly and from Hampstead Health in London they fly together to LA, as Connie wants to be an important player in the movie industry. She thrives in the glamorous atmosphere of famous people, has lots of friends and enjoys herself in LA heat and swimming parties. She witnesses lots of personal dramas of her friends but still is enchanted by the glitter of Hollywood, where no one tells the true and everyone shines. Elise feels that this lifestyle is not for her, she loves Connie but she struggles with her feelings and starts to question her relationship with her, why actually Connie took her to LA, why does she not introduce her officially as her girlfriend? She feels forlorn and sad that Connie forgot about her birthday. Feeling guilty Connie organized for her girlfriend a glamorous party but then not knowing that Elise can hear her, she has a conversation with another woman, revealing some facts, which triggers Elise to make some decisions that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons, also in her late 30s starts questioning her life and relationship with her long-term boyfriend Joe and his failing business. Her father gives her two books written by Connie and tells her, that the only person who might know anything about her lost mother is Connie, who paid final visit before Elise vanished into thin air. Rose was a baby when her mother disappeared and her entire life she felt her mother’s absence very strong. She feels that she missed something important and she lets her life flow. She wonders about her life and has a strong feeling that she could be a whole as a human if she would know more about her mother. One day Rose Simmons spontaneously decides to enter into Constance’s life under false pretenses and starts working as her carer. She hopes to found out what happened to her mother or even ridiculously she expects Elise to visit Connie one day. But more time she spends with Connie as a Laura Brown more she draws herself into a life of yet another person and not knowing herself at all. She tries her best with making the right choices but struggles with her dual life.
The Confession is a story about friendship and love but most of all is about looking for a place in life, own role and identity. Jessie Burton writes beautifully and she created characters very well, in fact, they were that good that I couldn’t connect with any of them. Connie as a writer and a lesbian is strong and arrogant in her youth but being 70 years old and being poorly she softens. She withdrew herself from public life after the disappearance of Elise and after 40 years feels that she needs to write one more, her final book. For that, she needs also Rosie help. She goes every day to her office and writes, but only what we know about her struggles are her poorly hands, making it almost impossible to hold a pen. We have a full picture of Connie being on the top of her writing career and getting old when her body struggles to follow her sharp mind. Perhaps she has had almost 40 years for thinking things over, but still, her knowing people’s characters as a writer and her sensitivity as a woman didn’t click for me. In fact, we don’t know anything about her life after seeing Elise for the last time, what she did if she was not writing or if she had another partner.
Elise and Rose’s characters are in a way similar, but no surprise here as they are mother and daughter. They both feel more real, their struggles felt authentic without happy and smooth circumstances. Although Rose’s best friend Kelly - an influencer, presenting her positive attitude and perfect pictures of a child on Instagram - was again too real to be true? Quite contrary as we are surrounded more or less by the influence of social media and perfect life closed in squares but Kelly character was another one which felt artificial perhaps because my own feelings towards all influencer thing is like that.
I like dual timeline in The Confession which is handled very well, there is an elegant flow between life of Elise in New York in 80s and there is a present time in London and both places have a unique atmosphere.
Jessie Burton is a master of creating atmospheric and poignant story which can easily engaged and absorb readers. I need to say that The Confession is a beautiful book about love and women’s friendship and I know that many readers will love characters for being authentic but I couldn’t connect with them until the end.
Reviewer: Monika Barrera
Review rating: 3,5/5
Date published: 01 September 2019