Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DUST by @BeauxCooper #WomensFiction

Today’s team review comes from Alison, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Alison has been reading Dust by Beaux Cooper


This is a really tricky review to write, because this novel has real potential to be a beautiful, engaging and enjoyable read, and the writer also has the ability and talent to write well. However, the novel has been completely let down by the editing.

The novel tells the story of Austen, a woman dissatisfied by life, by her husband in particular, who needs to find out what she wants from life. She makes the brave decision to go and work on a ranch in Wyoming. This is a really interesting idea – there is potential for drama, humour, and an investigation into relationships, character and what makes people tick. I’m convinced the author is capable of this, as her characters are warm and could be developed into something really special. She obviously knows the places she is writing about and has a real love for those places and people, and this could all be made into a wonderful book.

However, the novel needs a good editor to take it in hand and help the author realise its full potential. I’m not talking about typos or issues with grammar or spelling here, but fundamental issues with the structure, style and content of the novel. Dialogue, for instance, is extremely unnatural. The characters have long, in depth conversations with each other about their innermost feelings that are unnatural and unrealistic. Characters in novels need to sound like real people. And while we have this insight into the characters feelings, we know nothing really about Austen herself – what she does before she gives it all up to go to the ranch, what her background is etc., all those things that make fully formed characters.

The language too needs a thorough edit. The text is full of complicated words and convoluted, complicated sentences that need to be tightened, strengthened and restructured. There also needs to be a much clearer point of view. These are all issues that a good editor could sort, working with the writer to draw out the fabulous story and the great writing that is in there somewhere.

I’m giving this book three stars because I really feel that this author has the potential to write and write well, and the idea for this novel is sound. However, Ms Cooper has been totally let down by poor editing, which is a real shame.

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18 thoughts on “Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DUST by @BeauxCooper #WomensFiction

  1. It is indeed a shame; I remember reading a novel that I felt similarly about. As for the editing issues, I do get that editors do a great job – but isn’t this all the stuff that a writer should know and embrace him/herself? Isn’t it part of the craft of writing? One thing that often occurs to me is that if you need an editor to tell you about making such huge changes as these, perhaps you aren’t quite ready to write a novel? You know I’m speaking as one who has never used an editor, and indeed I can see that my earlier novels would have benefitted from one, but isn’t it better to learn to actually write well oneself? Just a discussion, this is not a dissing of either your points or editors in general!!!!

    Having said that, I remember reading a book by the famous Erin Pizzey (think it was called The Watershed), in which all the dialogue was just as you described here. Ludicrous. So perhaps even the well known and accomplished ‘need telling’…!


    • Thank you Terry, in a market as saturated as the book one, it is vital to be able to put out your very best work, but even that won’t guarantee fantastic sales numbers.


    • I do take your point Terry – I just really felt with this novel that the writer just needed a bit of a push in the right direction and that a decent editor could have done that. If the author had been given the right advice, this could have been really good.


      • Yes, I take your point, too – it perhaps just needed someone to point it out to her! It’s that thing that some debut novelists just don’t ‘get’ – that dialogue isn’t a tool for imparting factual information to the reader, or if it is to be used in this way it should be done very subtly indeed. It’s a bit like those detective novels when they have one detective explaining, in great detail, exactly how the crime was committed and how it was solved, with the other person occasionally saying ‘so what happened next?’ in order to make it look like a genuine conversation!


  2. Great review and a salutary lesson in the dangers of ‘rushing to publish’.
    I also agree with Terry. Authors need to learn their craft and shouldn’t rely on an editor to teach them the fundamentals. To me an editor’s job is to help polish the final work, not rewrite it.
    Gulp. Now going to drop my head behind the parapet.


  3. Thanks, Alison. I was intrigued by the premise of this novel but didn’t think I had the time to read it. I am with Terry on the editing front. Although we might all think of things we’d do differently, there are some decisions that are basic to the fabric of the book and also to the voice of the author…


    • Thanks, Olga ~ it’s all part of the realisation that thinking of a great story and writing it down is only one element of producing a good novel.

      One of my favourite trad pub writers, John Boyne, did a creative writing degree, and I asked him why he had done one when he’s such a terrific writer anyway! He told me that he knew he had talent for the written word, but he wanted to learn how to use it to produce a really good novel. I think some writers know how to structure a novel by instinct, others not so much. That’s when actually learning how to do it can be useful (and when people like Alison, in her editing hat, can be a help):)


  4. Good, sympathetic review and interesting discussion. I hope the author may act on the advice and produce a better book as it does sound like she has a good premise for her novel.


  5. I recently wrote a couple of blog posts on “Writing Dialogue that Works” (see links below) and how to make characters speak so that their words are believable. This review just reminded me of the fact that it happens so often where books are let down by unbelievable dialogue.

    Much of description needs to be left in the narration because the characters themselves already know that background information, so it would be redundant for them to say aloud. This, along with many other no-nos, ruins the flow of the story and it’s characters.

    Here are my two posts on writing dialogue that works: and


  6. Dialogue serves specific functions at different times throughout a story. If nothing else, it should provide the reader insight into the characters–what they say, how they say it, when they say it…or when they remain silent. There’s nothing wrong with “dropping a bomb” during dialogue; it has more shock value than relaying the big secret during narration. Regardless, dialogue is never verbatim; it is the “distillation of conversation.” At least that’s what I was taught.

    Authors have many different writing styles, and we have to take that into consideration when reading or reviewing a book. If we don’t like an author’s style, then we’re not likely to read something by him or her again.

    Fascinating post! Thanks for allowing me to be part of the conversation. 🙂


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