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Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Contemporary fiction

Queenie

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Candice Carty-Williams, on your first book!

by Candice Carty-Williams

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Quick take

Good friends, bad breakups, and life as a Jamaican-British millennial.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy

    Buzzy

Synopsis

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers. After a messy breakup from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places ... including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Queenie.
Queenie

Chapter One

Queenie:In the stirrups now.

Queenie:Wish you were here …

I locked my phone and carried on looking at the ceiling before unlocking it and sending a follow-up “xx.” That would prove to Tom that I wasn’t as emotionally detached as he accuses me of being.

“Can you just bring your bottom riiiiight to the edge of the exam table?” the doctor asked as I inched myself down closer to her face. Honestly, I’ve no idea how they do it.

“Deep breath, please!” she said a bit too cheerfully, and with no further warning inserted what felt like the world’s least ergonomic dildo into me and moved it around like a joystick. She placed a cold hand on my stomach, pressing down every few seconds and pursing her lips every time I squealed. To divert my attention from this manipulation of my insides, I checked my phone. No reply.

“So, what do you do . . . Queenie?” the doctor asked, glancing at my chart. Wasn’t it enough that she could literally see inside of me? Did she need to know about my day job?

“I work at a newspaper,” I said, lifting my head up to make eye contact when I responded, as it seemed like the polite thing to do.

“That’s a fancy career!” She pressed on, plunging her way back in. “What do you do at the newspaper?”

“I work at the Daily Read. The—ouch—culture section. Listings and reviews and—”

“In the technology department? That makes sense,” she said.

I hoisted myself up on my elbows to correct her, but stopped when I saw how concerned she looked. I glanced at the nurse behind her, who looked just as concerned, and then back at the doctor. She still looked concerned. I couldn’t see my own face but guessed that my expression mirrored both of theirs.

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Why I love it

I have to confess I have a prior interest in Queenie’s author, Candice Carty-Williams. A few years ago, I created a competition offering up my cottage to an aspiring writer in need of time and space to complete their project. Candice was the first winner, chosen from more than 600 applicants. She had never driven outside London before, and it took her six hours to make a two hour journey (the kind of thing that would happen to her character, Queenie!), but when she arrived she declined a cup of tea and went straight to work—she was that determined to make the most out of the opportunity.

Fast forward two and a half years; Queenie is one of the most anticipated books of the year. It grabbed me from the opening chapter because it did something that happens far too seldom—it took me into a world I didn’t know: that of a 25 year-old black woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. Queenie is fresh and flawed and she made me wince and made me laugh and made me think.

Candice is a unique writer. Even that 500-word contest entry told me there was something special about her. After re-reading the finished work I knew I had been right. I’m excited to see Queenie meet a wider audience, and to see Candice’s star really shine. We need more voices like hers.

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Member ratings (6,845)

  • Whitney L.

    Cedar Park, TX

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this un-put-downable. It’s only March, but I can already tell it’s going to be one of my top books of 2019. We are all Queenie, and I loved knowing her.

  • Tanisha S.

    Zephyrhills, FL

    Queenie is that special “hoe friend” some of us have. This novel give a perspective of what that friend has been through or could be currently going though. Not only did I enjoy it, I learned from it.

  • Erin H.

    Spartanburg, SC

    It’s been a while since I related to a protagonist with my whole heart. Queenie’s journey back into her best life is so inspiring because she makes it happen herself, with some help. Wonderful read.

  • Alison U.

    Abington, MA

    A cross between Americanah and Bridget Jones’s Diary—at turns dark and funny. Queenie is such a wonderfully complicated, yet relatable character. Deals with themes of trauma, mental health and family.

  • Alexa D.

    New Haven, CT

    Queenie hit very close to home. I’ve never read a book where I could relate so much to the character. I feel like her journey paralleled many of the same experiences I have had as a young black woman.

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