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Second Self

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781398703056

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 18th April 2024

Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Romance / Adult & Contemporary Romance

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‘Almost hypnotically perfect prose’ Kate Sawyer
‘A thoughtful, tender and delicate consideration of life’s choices’ Huma Qureshi
‘Ashby handles her material lightly and atmospherically’ Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

When Cathy and Noah first got together neither saw children in their future. Eight years later, they’re happily married – and Cathy isn’t so sure. With Noah’s patience for his wife’s ambivalence waning, her widowed mother in a world of her own and her best friend yearning for a second baby, Cathy feels increasingly adrift.

Escaping into her work in the conservation studios of the National Gallery, she chips away at the layers of overpaint on a canvas from the collection. Will the discovery of an unexpected truth help her find the clarity she craves?

This absorbing second novel from the author of WET PAINT – about confronting expectations and learning to cope with the nagging, complex questions that shape a life – is perfect for fans of OKAY DAYS, EXPECTATION and OLIVE.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘This book spoke to me like no other. Loved all the characters, big or small’

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘I read this emotive and gripping novel over 48 hours – it’s a beautifully written story and I recommend to anyone!’

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘A gorgeous novel that pulled me straight out of my ongoing slow reading . . . pretty much read majority of it in one sitting!’


A poignant and beautifully written second novel exploring the expectations that life confronts us and the decisions we may find ourselves having to make.
A precise and moving novel about expectation, ambivalence and desire. SECOND SELF unravels one of life's big questions and asks what happens when two people change separately as well as together.
Abigail Bergstrom, author of WHAT A SHAME
SECOND SELF is a thoughtful exploration of one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. Ashby handles her material lightly and atmospherically. It feels like reading the secret thoughts of a dear friend.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of THE SLEEP WATCHER
An elegantly subtle novel about motherhood, marriage and choice - I'm sure it will resonate with many.
Claire Powell, author of AT THE TABLE
Thoughtful... Ashby should be applauded for the nuance with which she portrays the choices available to women.
SECOND SELF deals with tricky subjects with kindness and generosity. Chloe writes with deep care for her characters and the troubles they face but also with a keen eye for detail, both physical and, acutely, emotional.
Lizzy Stewart, author of ALISON
A magnificent novel about big decisions, social pressures and finding clarity in the face of uncertainty.
Anna Bonet, THE I PAPER
Neat and quiet, this is a novel in which many women will be glad to find themselves reflected.
Stephanie Cross, DAILY MAIL
Tender and acutely observed... Second Self is a moving exploration of the choices that shape a life.
Francesca Peacock, MAIL ON SUNDAY
SECOND SELF is a novel about love, art, and those monumental, impossible life decisions. At times meditative, at times heartbreaking, but throughout compassionate and nuanced. A thoughtful, tender novel that will resonate with many thirty-somethings and is sure to spark many a discussion among its readers.
Jenny Mustard, author of OKAY DAYS
A beautifully nuanced portrait of a woman at a crossroads. Hard recommend.
Catherine Jarvie, MARIE CLAIRE
An insightful, thoughtfully written year in the life of a woman who navigates her own and others' expectations. SECOND SELF is a tender read about contemplating and making decisions.
Margaux Vialleron, author of THE YELLOW KITCHEN
SECOND SELF is thoughtful and beautifully formed and written in almost hypnotically perfect prose. About the big questions surrounding becoming a mother and being a daughter to ageing parents. A delight. I can't wait to read all of Chloë's work.
Kate Sawyer, author of THE STRANDING
I found SECOND SELF to be a thoughtful, tender and delicate consideration of life's choices; there's a beguiling simplicity to Chloë's considered, timeless and elegiac prose, and I know that this is a story of longing that will stay with me.