Exactly What You Mean

Exactly What You Mean

The BBC Between the Covers Book Club Pick


The BBC Between the Covers Book Club Pick

'Sentence by sentence, Ben Hinshaw offers wit, sensitivity and sharp observation. Then slowly the reader sees the grand design - the intricate, braided storylines, sustained with energy and relish. It is entertaining, and something more - truly involving, like a whole novel sequence cleverly condensed' Hilary Mantel

Surrounded by the dramatic beauty of Guernsey, a teenager discovers a secret and finds his betrayal has the power to ruin adult lives. In London, a marriage shot through with infidelity leads to a quest for revenge, resulting in a series of simultaneously comical and catastrophic events. And in California, as wildfires threaten landscapes and lives, a young veteran struggles with the trauma of war, seeking solace at a local ranch.

In this extraordinary debut, a cast of characters grapple with unexpected betrayal, the loss of innocence and the lies we tell. With sharp insight, Ben Hinshaw illuminates the unnerving nature of what it means to grow up, to be a teenager playing at adulthood and an adult playing games.

'Remarkable . . . virtuosity of technique accompanies keenness of insight and depth of characterisation . . . Hinshaw's impressively accomplished debut puts him in [Tim Winton and Jennifer Egan's] company' Sunday Times

'Ben Hinshaw renders ordinary human agonies with extraordinary precision and emotional insight. He specialises in the atmosphere of human interconnection, in subtle revelations and indelible images. This book is a riveting and beautifully patterned map of the emotional archipelago of longing and learning, loving and leaving' Max Porter

'A surprising and enjoyable read . . the exercise of working out how the web threads together is part of the pleasure of this book . . . this novel without guardrails stands as a brave debut' The Times


  • A surprising and enjoyable read . . . this novel without guardrails stands as a brave debut
    The Times

About the author

Ben Hinshaw

Ben Hinshaw is a British-American writer whose short fiction has received an O. Henry Prize and appeared in Granta, Harvard Review, The White Review and elsewhere. He grew up on the island of Guernsey and has also lived in London, Nottingham and Northern California. A former bookseller, he currently lives on Guernsey with his family.
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