Book Review: Clara & Olivia by Lucy Ashe

Title: Clara & Olivia

Author: Lucy Ashe

Publisher: Magpie (a Oneworld imprint)

Pages: 320

Release Date: 2nd Feb, 2023

Thank you Random Things Tours for the chance to read and review Clara & Olivia by Lucy Ashe.

I’ve been told by a few people that I don’t often tell them if I loved or hated a book at the start, they need to figure that out while reading my review. So for this book I’d like to openly declare that I loved it! It grabs you from the get-go and never eases up. It’s like a dream that you can feel turning into a nightmare!

This is even more impressive when you realise that Clara & Olivia is Lucy Ashe’s debut novel! This book is so good that I can’t wait to read what the author writes next!


Clara and Olivia are twin sisters who dance/train for the same theatre. While the girls are talented and ambitious ballerinas who look absolutely alike, they behave differently! Clara is the more adventurous one, who wants to dance and see the world; the one who wants to try new things. Olivia is the quieter one; the one devoted to ballet and the classics. While the girls are competitive, they love each other. We experience the book from each girls POV as well as the POV of two men; Samuel and Nathan, the former a gifted shoemaker and designer, and the latter a child prodigy. 

The book starts off with a fairly horrific scene that we come back to close to the end, but suffice it to say it’s one of the men doing something horrific. It also takes us a while to unpack which man it is. 


Lucy Ashe set up these characters really well. The twins and their dynamic and ambitions is so well done that they each become very different characters. In the hands of a lesser writer I would have absolutely muddled up details on each girl. Nathan and Samuel are also very real and honestly we all know people like them.

I genuinely want to focus on how well Lucy Ashe captured the impact of the boys actions on the twins. Samuel and his crush, while well meaning, had the undertone of an obsession with Olivia. While a lot of people crush and may do weird things when they do, I loved that Lucy Ashe explored how these actions unsettled Olivia! Nathan is also an incredibly typical man who wanted Clara as a trophy who folded his handkerchiefs and made him feel like someone in public spaces! His slow fall into darkness and what he does to try and control Clara is depicted well. The insane thing with his mother, what Clara finds uncomfortable is revealed to be his obsession and less of a her problem.

I don’t read a lot of psychological thrillers. They aren’t really my thing, but this book didn’t feel like a thriller for the most part, even though that undertone never goes away. I feel like non thriller fans will also love this book because of the romance and grace of the ballet and because the different POVs help make things feel less thriller-y and more like a series of misunderstandings. Don’t get me wrong, this is a thriller, and the ending works well; it just doesn’t feel so in your face.

LUCY ASHE is the author of CLARA & OLIVIA (Magpie, Oneworld publications).

She trained at the Royal Ballet School for eight years, first as a Junior Associate and then at White Lodge. She has a diploma in dance teaching with the British Ballet Organisation. 

She studied English Literature at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, while continuing to dance and perform. She then took a PGCE teaching qualification and became an English teacher. 

Her poetry and short stories have been published in a number of literary journals and she was shortlisted for the 2020 Impress Prize for New Writers. She also reviews theatre, in particular ballet, writing for the website

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