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Cuckoo Paperback – 24 Nov 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (24 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755377990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755377992
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.9 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 188,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julia Crouch grew up in Cambridge and studied Drama at Bristol University. She spent ten years working as a theatre director and playwright, then, after a spell of teaching, she somehow became a successful graphic and website designer, a career she followed for another decade while raising her three children. An MA in sequential illustration reawoke her love of narrative and a couple of Open University creative writing courses brought it to the fore.

Cuckoo, her first novel, emerged as a very rough draft during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2008. A year's editing got it ready for submission to an agent and within a couple of months she had a book deal with Headline and had given up the day job.

Every Vow You Break, her second novel, was published in March 2012, and Tarnished, her third, came out in 2013. She is also published in Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Brazil and China.

She works in a shed at the bottom of the Brighton house she shares with her husband, the actor and playwright Tim Crouch, their three children, two cats called Keith and Sandra, and about twelve guitars. She is a self-confessed geek and fights a daily battle to resist tinkering with the code on her website, which can be found at

Product Description


'Brilliant...truly chilling' (Sophie Hannah)

'Very enjoyable; expertly paced and very cleverly ambiguous' (Telegraph)

'A tale of slow-burning suspense...Crouch deftly avoids the obvious and builds up a very convincing air of menace in her extremely well-described portrait of family life becoming frayed at the edges with fatal results' (Daily Mail)

'A brilliant debut novel...A totally compelling new novel about a woman who helps her best friend after she experiences a tragedy in her life...Gripping stuff...Cuckoo is a riveting and spooky story that keeps your eyes locked in the page and leaves you feeling shaken and out of sorts' (Heat)

Book Description

This is an utterly gripping psychological drama for reading groups, in the vein of Sophie Hannah.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Cuckoo tells the story of Rose and Polly, childhood friends whose lives follow very different paths until they are reunited following the death of Polly's husband. Rose and her husband Gareth have had a few problems in their marriage but have patched things up (at least on the surface) and are just finishing renovating their beautiful country house when Polly invites herself and her two bereaved sons to stay.

From the start Polly is, to put it mildly, a nightmare - a selfish, lazy ex-junkie/ex-rock star and a totally irresponsible mother to boot. Despite the fact that she has recently lost her husband, I found it nigh on impossible to feel any sympathy for her. In contrast Rose, despite being married to a fairly avant-garde artist, has led a conventional life. I warmed to her instantly and really empathised with her plight at the beginning of the book, but as the storyline progressed she became more and more irrational and started to frustrate and irritate me - you'll see why when you read it!

The book is quite a slow burner, but the better for it in my opinion as it gives the reader the chance to absorb the nuances of Rose and Polly's relationship and try to fathom out why Polly has such a hold over her childhood friend. It's not long before Polly's malign influence on Rose and her family comes to the fore, but a lot of the misfortunes which befall them are quite ambiguous and open to interpretation, cleverly leaving the reader to decide whether Rose is justified in her suspicions, or just paranoid.

The tension and pervading sense of menace build towards a frantic and exciting denouement and I was very impressed with Julia Crouch's debut novel - a very promising new addition to the psychological thriller genre.
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
CUCKOO tells the story of Rose and Polly. When Polly's husband dies in a car accident, Rose invites her friend into her house, telling her she should stay with her family until she has got herself back on track. Then, unsurprisingly, Rose begins to regret her decision.

Without wanting to give too much away, even when Rose is beginning to have doubts about her friend, there are reasons why she does not just ask her to leave. All of the characters in this book have some kind of back story, making them far more complex than they at first appear. However, this does not make them any more likeable. I think, for me, this was the main problem with the book - although I read on until the end, it wasn't because I really cared about Rose. In fact, as the book progresses, I began to doubt to Rose. Because not much of the action is definite - you are never sure, really, if Rose is right to think that Polly is trying to take her place or whether Rose is paranoid - by the end of the book you are hoping for some kind of resolution to this. However, this does not happen. By the end of the book, you still don't know if Rose was right or just paranoid, plus the ending is an anticlimax, in my opinion.

After reading this book I would not rush to pick up Crouch's next offering. Although there were moments of tension, by the last third of the book or so I was just becoming frustrated with it. The tension was wound up only to be slowed down by Crouch describing in minute detail the layout of the house for the umpteemth time, or talking about what Rose was going to cook for them all, and who was going to help her etc, etc. Although the characters had background stories, Crouch didn't do enough for me to care about them - by the end of the book, if Polly was trying to take Rose's place, I really wasn't that bothered about if she succeeded or not.
Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend this book and I doubt I shall read her next one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BOOKWORM on 31 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this well paced novel. It reads like a meaty sort of chick-lit to start with, but then becomes much more sinister and there is no real happy-ever-after, but I thought the ending - despite some grumbles from other reviewers - totally appropriate to the tone of the book.
Polly's husband dies in a car accident. She flees back to the UK, to old friend Rose and her husband Gareth, who have made a comfortable, rural village life for themselves. Gareth is an artist and Rose a master home-maker, looking after the children and their idyllic home with organic precision.
Polly, with her slack rock-chick ways, couldn't be more different, and her two feral boys move into the annex. The axis of Rose's life changes as Polly gains control of the household, and eventually her husband. There is a delicious, dark undercurrent off-setting the homely atmosphere of this story. The power of control via secrets is ever present and grows rapidly to a shocking climax.
Very entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JM VINE VOICE on 29 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first saw this book I thought it sounded just my kind of thing, I love this sort of book, where someone comes into another's life and gradually we see that they are not all they seem.
From the blurb this sounds like it will be a fantastic psychological thriller, and indeed, for the middle part, it is. The problems, for me, were the beginning and the end.
Rose lives with her family in a carefully restored old house in the country. When her best friend's husband dies suddenly, Rose invites Polly and her young sons to stay with them, after all where else would they go? Polly hates her life in Greece and her husband's Greek family.
From the beginning Polly is unlikeable, I could not see why she would be anyone's best friend because she really doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities. The book is slow to get going, I realise the author has to set the scene but at times I found it painfully slow. As other reviewers have also commented sometimes the amount of minute detail was almost childlike, it was as though every last movement in Rose's day had to be recorded, even on days where nothing remotely significant happened. It was almost written as a list, Rose did this, then she did that, then she did something else, etc.
However, towards the middle, the sense of menace grows and I began to really enjoy the book. I think that it is rather implausible however, Rose must have been very stupid indeed to allow Polly to remain in her home after certain events, I really could not see anyone sane putting up with such an unbalanced and obviously dangerous woman. But, it's only fiction, and it made for a good story.
Until the ending, that is. This came as a huge disappointment, it was a sthough the author wasn't sure how to finish her book, and opted for a very lazy way out.
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