Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois

Read by Emily Rankin

Jennifer duBois showed her prodigious talent in her first novel A Partial History of Lost Causes (not published as an audiobook in the United Kingdom), making one think of Donna Tartt, with her mesmerising prose. And Cartwheel does have a tenuous connection with Tartt’s monumental masterpiece The Secret History, centring as it does on the murder of a university student.

Unashamedly inspired by the story of Amanda Knox (‘loosely’ inspired, duBois claims in a brief epilogue), the murder in question moves from Italy to Argentina, but the raw materials are all derived from Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, including the cartwheel of the title, which Amanda Knox was widely reported to have performed at the police station after Meredith’s death (although Knox denied this, saying ‘I never did a cartwheel. I did do the splits ... once’). The novel is not exploitative of the Knoxes and the Kerchers very real traumas and grief. The events in Perugia are simply the spur that pricked duBois’s unequalled talent for place, time, character, motivation, voice, consequences. Lily Hayes is not Amanda Knox and Katy Kellers is not Meredith Kercher. But all the unanswered questions of Perugia resurface in Cartwheel. And, in this exceptional book, many of the same doubts still linger.

Emily Rankin’s reading is seamless: not too tense or melodramatic: thoroughly engaged. And well worth a second or third listen. 


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