3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2013
Every Vow You Break is a hybrid of contemporary romance, family drama and psychological thriller. It's not your typical thriller and if your looking for a fast paced whodunit then this probably isn't the book for you.
I felt that the authors descriptions of the vile house and the dirty climate of Trout Island, NY state were really well executed, I could actually sense the grime and the mustiness of the place and I longed for the characters to give their environment a good scrubbing.
But overall I found the characters, especially the protagonist Lara, so frustrating! Lara repeatedly 'sees' and experiences things that are strange and unsettling yet she continues to dismiss them as her eyes playing tricks on her, or her hormones or her excessive wine consumption etc etc. I found this very annoying; basically it was a weak plot device that was used to ensure that the 'strange' incidents weren't revealed until the end.
As the book is written mostly from the pov of Lara we are left guessing as to what is going on but only beause she seems completely dense and unrealistically dismissive of the unsettling incidents; thus her character lacked any authenticity and I didn't really care about what happened to her.
Having said that the descriptions were very good and the sick relationship between the twins was weirdly fascinating, and is probably the reason I saw the book through to the end.
With a bit more effort and some increased character development this book could have been great but as it stands its just average-to-good at best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
I enjoyed reading this book, and after putting it down was always ready to pick it up again. The pace was rather slow, I thought; halfway through and nothing much had happened.
I didn't particularly warm to Lara as she seemed a bit wet at times, and it irritated me that she seemed to think her daughter Bella should share the child care for her youngest child Jack, although she had very little else to do herself. And unless I missed something, they seemed to have been in the house for several hours before they discovered there was no hot water - did nobody want a wash? Yuck. Lara also unbelievably left her teenage children to pack for a six week holiday themselves, and then seemed surprised when they didn't have enough suitable clothes!!
They were without doubt a dysfunctional family and one of the most interesting facets of the story was the relationship between her two elder children, twins Bella and Olly; Lara seemed totally oblivious although there were numerous clues scattered around. What happened there, not only between the two of them but also with Bella's new American boyfriend, was a real hot potato that sadly was just left to cool off. Pity, as there was real mileage to be had from psycho Olly.
Instead the story concentrated on a rather predictable plotline - I'd worked out who was the baddie long before Lara had. Having said that though, it was still a good read and certainly picked up pace quickly at the end. The ending was a bit unlikely and we didn't get told how they dealt with the messy aftermath; which I thought was a bit of a cop-out.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Every Vow You Break is Julia's second book, , which I was keen to read after loving Cuckoo. It tells the story of the Wayland family, who are spending their summer in upstate New York. Marcus has been offered the lead in a new play, and Lara is hoping the time away from home will be good for them all.
The family have their problems.. Lara is recovering from an abortion, with a marriage under stress, and the two older children have secrets of their own. There is a gradual build up at the beginning of the book, as Julia unravels the thoughts and feelings of the troubled family. Alongside this, however, are small mysteries.. things which don't seem that important at the time, but start to warm the reader that something else is wrong.
As the story evolves, the family are reacquainted with an old friend of Marcus - who also shares a history with Lara. As she starts to feel attracted to him, she spends more time with him, unaware of the building danger.
Within Every Vow You Break is the subtle, building tension and danger that was present in Cuckoo, but towards the end it has a more traditional thriller ending. Readers of Cuckoo should love Julia's new step, as should new readers. A highly recommended second book, and I look forward to number three!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2014
One of those novels that just when you think you have it sussed off it goes in another direction. Not always a bad thing, indeed it can be great fun when you didn't see some plot development or other coming, but in this instance rather than wondering in which way the story would take me I was simply left pondering how much more ludicrous and far-fetched it could get ... not to mention just how much more linguistically advanced the four year old Jack could possibly become.
A difficult book to review without giving anything away but lets just say for those readers looking for a reason to complain about/ban a book for its contents Every Vow You Break offers ample opportunities -abortion, adultery, rape, teenage sex, incest (although this is only hinted at), drug use, and expletives aplenty, its all there (and more) in a novel that ends abruptly as each of the stereotypical characters, their part in the tale tied up, is seemingly ticked off the authors metaphorical check list.
It isn't often that I mourn time lost reading a book but I'm afraid with this particular novel I did.
Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2012
I was so looking forward to reading this book and when I won a copy in a prize draw was thrilled but it just somehow missed the mark a little.
Don't get me wrong the story is a good idea, its tense and quite gripping but the characters failed to convince me, they all seemed just a touch overblown, caricatures rather than real people I could completely believe in and relate to.
The idea is good, The Wayland family from England arrive in the USA for a summer break with a difference. Mum Lara is bitterly licking her wounds after an abortion she reluctantly went ahead with and is regretting. Husband Marcus a small bit part actor who has come to the US at the invitation of an old friend hoping that involvement with a theatre group may lead to lucrative employment. Twins Bella and Olly and young Jack arrive in Trout island where they discover the accommodation which has been provided falls rather short of expectations and has a sinister air and when strange things begin to happen Lara wonders what's going on if they are being watched or if she's imagining things.
Marcus comes across and such a despicable and unlikeable wimp I can't imagine why anyone would stay with him as long as Lara has, Bellatoo has secrets and I fail to understand why on earth she puts up with what she doees. Nobody seems to have noticed that Olly is 2 sandwiches short of a picnic and heading for being a real psychopath!
5 year old Jack talks and converses for the most part like a 15 year old and the people they meet through the theatre and locally - well they are all so much larger than life none of them ring true.
It keeps you guessing all the way through but I found the ending unsatisfactory, and unlikely and although I read it quite quickly, found it a page turner, in the end it annoyed me and I was left with a slightly bad taste in my mouth and quite disappointed overall.
on 17 July 2013
Although on one level I did enjoy Every Vow You Break, I found the characters and some of the plot just too beyond any suspension of disbelief. Lara and Marcus appear less like human beings and more like caricatures - the downtrodden wife with a secret and the irresponsible luvvie husband. Few of the other characters stood out and came across as pretty one-dimensional, even the troubled twins Olly and Bella (whose rather alarming relationship and the casual treatment of it I found pretty unbelievable), not to mention Stephen the cardboard cut-out man.
The writing was a bit of a struggle at times - there seemed to be an insistence on telling people's backstories in a rather clunky way - but at other times it flowed nicely, usually when describing the location. And although I could imagine some of the situations in the book, the words seemed somewhat flat.
Basically, it's a relatively unchallenging thriller that you shouldn't expect too much from.
on 30 April 2013
The reason I've rated this book 2 stars is because I thought it was quite gripping and enjoyable about two thirds of the way, so the 2 stars are for that.
As the book progresses, I began to find this author's style of writing irritating and overly descriptive.
But the main negative is that this author just does not seem able to wind her books down to a satisfactory ending. The later part of the book becomes disturbing, violent and sick (especially regarding Lara's older son) and there was no proper outcome in the end, which was very annoying. What was the point? The book ends with questions unanswered, rather like in her first novel which also had a poor ending. I'd ordered this book first but it was delayed so I read Cuckoo first. Then I read this book thinking it might be an improvement. So that's done it for me. I won't be reading any further novels by this author who cannot write satisfying conclusions to her stories, making them in the end pointless.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2013
Some of the writing is very good but some is truly awful. I enjoyed the descriptions of Trout Island, its surrounding landscape and the oppressive, thundery weather. it was obvious that the writer was describing a place and climate she knew from personal experience and indeed this was confirmed in the author's notes at the end of the book.
If this thread is continued, however, I can only assume she has no experience whatsoever of 4 year old boys. The dialogue she gives young Jack would sound too mature and sensible coming from a 16 year old never mind a 4 year old.
The basic idea of the plot is quite clever but it is all wrapped up quickly in the end as though the writer is going through a tick list checking that each of the strange characters has their part of the story tied up.
In short, believe the one star reviews and don't waste your time on this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2012
I very much enjoyed the first part of this book. The atmosphere of menace gradually built and I felt involved with the main character Lara as she considered her options after meeting up again with her first love as her marriage became more difficult. Some of the story was told from the POV of Lara's daughter Bella, and I found these parts less credible. The book had an excellent twist at the end, and there were a few pointers along the way to prevent this seeming too unlikely. Nevertheless the ending was too rushed, we reeled unstoppably from one strange event to another. The 'tidy up' last chapter seemed to me to still leave too many questions unanswered and for that reason I have given the book only 3 stars.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Every Vow You Break is the story of one summer in the lives of the Wayland family, parents Lara and Marcus, sixteen-year-old twins Bella and Olly and young five-year-old Jack. As the novel commences, we meet them newly arrived in New York State, driving to Trout Island, which is to be their summer home for the next six weeks as actor Marcus takes up the lead role in a play there. Theatrical friend James has sorted some local accommodation for them. Soon after arriving, they discover that an old friend from England, who is now a very famous actor, is staying under cover nearby.
The story is predominantly about Lara, but it is also about the children, especially the twins, and to a lesser extent about Marcus. Lara is wondering about the direction of life, about the decisions she made early on that led her to become a wife and mother so soon after school, foregoing her promise as an actress to raise her family; 'What could she have been had life not intervened?'. She has hopes of using the summer as a fresh start for her and her family, after the abortion she's just been through, which Marcus insisted on. 'She was going to do everything in her power to get her feelings, and her family, back on track.' This includes trying to fall in love with her husband again. There is a complex relationship between the twins which adds interest. For Marcus, this acting role could be the chance he has been looking for to breakthrough and he is pining his hopes on it. Lara meanwhile has to deal with her feelings towards Stephen, the old friend who is now back in their lives.
The author creates a vivid sense of place - the sweltering heat in the small town that makes them wilt, the dusty, filthy conditions in the house when they arrive - this is all conveyed so well that it is easy to imagine the surroundings they find themselves in, and these descriptions of the heat and dirt and the creepy feel to the house all add to creating an unsettling effect. The tension builds slowly, and there is a real sense of foreboding. I enjoyed the time taken getting to know the characters and watching as they all reacted to their new situation in different ways.
I found the initial section engaging, and although I felt the pace in the middle to be a little slow at times, and was willing something to happen, it all builds to an exciting, tense, dark and menacing ending, although with a few ends left open that I wondered about. Thinking back after finishing the novel, I could see that there were a few hints for the reader to spot as to what was to come, which were cleverly included. Overall a convincing and atmospheric read.