Book Review - The Real Book Thief (non-fiction)

The Real Book Thief (How To Steal Another Author's Work And Nearly Get Away With It) - Ingrid Black

This book tells of how author duo, Ingrid Black came to discover that popular author, Joanne Clancy had plagiarised not just one, but it appears a whole series of their books.


The Real Book Thief is an interesting read, and is a stark warning that people aren’t always what they seem. It is a shame myself and others have been made to feel like this, as the author/reader/reviewer community is one of the closest I’ve ever been a part of and I’ve made some friends I hope will be friends for life. It saddens me that some of my reviewer friends have spent many hours reading and reviewing Joanne Clancy’s books, often prioritising her books, only to be betrayed and let down in this way.


I was too busy munching on a huge meal my Irish mother had made us all on Easter Sunday, to discover this story when it was first revealed. In fact, the first I heard of it was yesterday when a couple of my other book blogger friends posted a link to this book. I knew I had to read this book right away. Twenty Four hours on and I’m still in shock.


Joanne Clancy was my friend on Goodreads for years, back in the days when I had very few friends on there, so I saw her happy, smiling face regularly when popping onto Goodreads to update my own reading and see what my friends had read. Joanne was also an active member of a book club on Facebook that we were both in. Lots of other members read and reviewed her books, although Tear Drop, I remember in particular, as that title stuck in my mind. Reviewers shared links to their reviews on Amazon and their blogs, and Joanne would thank them.


I’m not a huge fan of crime novels, so although I did have a couple of her books on my to be read pile, I in fact have only read and reviewed one book, that was a short Christmas story. I bought Open Your Eyes off Amazon, after other friends recommended it, but now I’m wondering whether she even wrote it, so it is unlikely I’ll ever read and review it. This whole incident has left me feeling quite uneasy and sickened by what has happened.


Although this book explains a lot, we are still left with so many unanswered questions. Was Joanne originally a genuine author who made a huge mistake that would ruin her writing career? Were any of her books written by her? If she was a genuine author, what truly drove her to steal someone else’s work and claim it as her own?


If you knew Joanne Clancy online too, then this book is likely to trigger emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, confusion and curiosity. Will we ever get to know her side of the story? Will this mystery ever be solved? Perhaps one day she will return to write her autobiography, and we will all be provided with the answers we crave.


Reading this book has left me with such mixed emotions. A part of me is sad for the readers and reviewers who have been betrayed by her lies, another part of me is angry that she stole someone else’s hard work and cashed in on it. Authors work exceptionally hard to create a novel, and I feel Joanne’s actions have devalued this difficult process. Then there is the other part of me that always tries to see the good in people. Did something make her so desperate that it drove her to do this? Was she desperate for more money in order to pay bills that were piling up, or was she just seeking attention and wanted to be a famous author with less of the effort? What do her family think of this? Were they in on it all along, or were they proud of their daughter/sister, the talented and successful author?


The most natural part of me feels sympathy for her if this has resulted in her life falling apart around her and her family being ashamed of her. Perhaps she has learnt from her mistakes and is doing something with her life to right the wrongs she has done. If that is the case, then good luck to her. However, the still shocked and betrayed part of me has become suspicious of what is now real. Is Joanne Clancy even her real name, or has she got various author names that are still making her money to this day? My mind is in a spin! Perhaps we will never know the truth.

I feel shocked and saddened by this at the moment, but my reviewer friends and I will get over this, and continue loving and supporting authors as we have done for many years. This book is a huge eye-opener, but please don’t let it ruin your love of books and support for genuine authors that still need your help.