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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Are you sure you're not imagining all of this?'
I won't reveal too much about the actual storyline to this novel, because it would ruin things; I'm glad I didn't know too much about it before I read it and I'd advise you don't read too many reviews or features about it until you've read the book in case any of them tip you off a bit. I've tried not to disclose anything that would spoil it. For now, think about this:...
Published 18 months ago by L. H. Healy

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Not really worth one star. Absolute tosh
I truly struggle to understand how so many people gave this five stars. One reviewer even claims to see an homage to Rebbecca. Really ? I'd like to know where exactly.
A bunch of feeble one dimensional unlikeable characters inhabit a plot of such staggering stupidity that I am cross with myself for carrying on to the end.
There are so many areas that require the...
Published 7 days ago by L. G. Southgate


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Are you sure you're not imagining all of this?', 11 Sept. 2013
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Paperback)
I won't reveal too much about the actual storyline to this novel, because it would ruin things; I'm glad I didn't know too much about it before I read it and I'd advise you don't read too many reviews or features about it until you've read the book in case any of them tip you off a bit. I've tried not to disclose anything that would spoil it. For now, think about this: have you ever had a conversation with someone and then they've later denied saying things to you that you distinctly remember them having said? Do you begin to question your own memory, your own sanity? Imagine this, writ large, and you have the crux of this chilling tale.

The author pays homage to Rebecca in the manner in which the main character's name is not revealed at first. A newcomer, Ellie, arrives to rent a place in a small close-knit countryside village. She's a novelist who hopes to work on her book there and also makes an effort befriend the locals. Dan and his wife Cass are part of that circle, and they, along with their affluent friends, all welcome Ellie. However, Cass soon comes to see a different side to Ellie, finding unsettling things out about her and feeling Ellie is excluding her from things in subtle ways, and Cass can't understand why no one else sees it or indeed believes what Cass tells them. When the doubting extends to her husband Dan and their daughter Laura, Cass's world begins to crumble around her and she is caused to question her own sanity.

A nightmarish situation develops for the central character, Cass. She begins to feel alienated from her friends and family, everyone she thought she could rely on and trust. It was frightening to think that this could happen, but the way Elizabeth Forbes tells it, I believed that it could.

'I stood for a moment, feeling alone and isolated, and yet here I was amongst my closest friends. Everyone was chatting, laughing, relaxing, having a happy time together without a care in the world, and then there was me. It was all so subtle, almost subliminal.'

Is it really happening to her as she thinks it is, or is it all imagined, in her head? It's cleverly written, and made me question what was true, who could be trusted? Through Cass, the author captures the terrifying struggle to retain your sanity when all around you there ostensibly seems to be proof that you are seriously losing your grip on it.

`It was a nasty, creepy feeling of something dark and insidious gathering around me, and because it had no face or name I didn't know how I was going to fight it.'

This tale was really well done, very cleverly told, I thought. Cass is the main narrator; written in her first person voice almost throughout, we are thrown into her mind and into the unsettling experiences and torment she goes through. From time to time, though, there is an interruption to Cass's narrative, and a passage in italics, when the voice of Ellie takes over, and this device leads us to question who we can trust and believe, what is the reality, how has it become distorted? I liked the additional complexity of Cass's difficult relationship with her mother too.

Sometimes books of this ilk don't work out as well as I hope they will, or are initially compelling but then fizzle out a little; but for me this one absolutely did hold up to it's promise and was utterly gripping, with a great build up of the suspense and tension and some nice twists in the tale.

The cover is appropriately unsettling; a hand seemingly losing grip despite the tension and strain to hold on that is visible, and the image being jagged and distorted.

This was a complete and utter page-turner of the best kind. A riveting, chilling, tense, psychological tale that grabbed hold of me and begged to not be put down until I had finished.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced page turner, 7 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Paperback)
This is a fast paced psychological thriller set in an idyllic middle England country village where Cass has a cosy home which she enjoys pottering about in, a close knit circle of friends, a loving husband and since their only daughter Laura flew the nest to University has started her own little gardening business. Life couldn't be much better .... but it COULD get a whole lot worse!

Enter Ellie, glamorous, bright and sophisticated she swans into town in a sports car and instantly fits in with the local crowd. Of a similar age to Cass, she makes friendly overtures towards everyone, Cass included and during a heart to heart Cass instantly feels Ellie understands her and believes she has found a new friend and confidante, but things rapidly become strained between the 2 women when a series of misunderstandings mean Cass gets her nose pushed out by Ellie and old insecurities begin to surface making her feels she is deliberately being usurped. Things rapidly go downhill for Cass and her life begins to feel as if it's no longer safe, she feels vulnerable and threatened.

Cass is the main narrator but we are also treated at intervals to Ellies very different point of view on events and as both women are persuasive and believable we begin to waver as to which one we believe most - who should we trust? The narrative switches effortlessly between the 2 women and events which begin gradually and insidiously soon become terrifying and terrible.

It really scared me how quickly things can change and how difficult it can be to make people believe you once doubts are in their minds. I was actually quite worried that at times I couldn't see a way out of the increasingly desperate situation.

This is a taut and terrifying page turner of the very highest calibre. It's quite hard to credit that this is a debut novel - it's so slick and accomplished it reads as though the author is a well established literary genius.

Read it and enjoy the shivers which run down your spine - but think twice before you tell your best friend about it - you never know WHO you can trust.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearest Thing to Crazy, 26 Aug. 2013
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Kindle Edition)
This is a powerful, well written and disturbing read. Ellie Black, a glamorous novelist, moves into a small close knit rural community. She is quickly accepted by the group and involved in local events and fund raising activities. Everyone seems to like Ellie, except Dan's wife who narrates part of the book. Cassandra dislikes Ellie on sight and very soon finds her own life and place in local society is being insidiously undermined. Is it all in her head or is something sinister going on? Dan thinks she's losing the plot and says so.

If you have ever been in a situation where you know you've had a conversation with someone and yet they flatly deny it took place, or where you know you have not received a certain message even though everyone else has, or where you're told you're imagining undercurrents or insinuations then this book will send shivers down your spine. Reminiscent of the 1944 film `Gaslight', this novel explores the borders between sanity and madness and also the nature of reality. I found it an uncomfortable yet gripping read.

I found the characters well drawn and convincing. Cassandra herself who does her best to deal with an increasingly slippery and uncomfortable situation, her daughter Laura and her husband Dan who at times appears weak and easily led. I liked the way the interactions between the friends was portrayed with people rallying round to support Cassandra without really understanding what the situation really entailed.

This is a frightening and powerful novel and it shows how it is all too easy to upset a person's equilibrium and to make them question what they perceive as reality.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind Bending - Amazing!, 27 Jun. 2013
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Paperback)
Sometimes a book comes along that totally blows the mind. Nearest Thing To Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes has done just that, my head is spinning, my heart has been beating so fast that I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. I've been so angry with the characters that I've actually shouted at them - out loud.

Published by Cutting Edge Press on 27 June 2013, there is no doubt that this is going to be one of my Top Ten Books of the year. There were times when I was actually a little bit scared of turning over the page, this is a mind-bending psychological head-f*** of the highest order. I loved it!

Set in a small Worcestershire village - a group of middle-class families are happy to welcome novelist Ellie into their tight-knit group. Glamorous Ellie fits nicely into their glossy lives, with their fancy houses, smart cars and perfect gardens. She tells them that she is here to write her next book, she's rented a cottage for a few months and is looking forward to getting some inspiration for her story.

Cass and Dan have been married for years, their only child Laura has gone off to university and Cass is happy to potter around the garden, growing vegetables, collecting eggs and making chutney. Everyone seems to love Ellie - except Cass, she is the only one who feels uncomfortable around her. And for very good reason. Slowly and gradually, Cass sees her life unravel - her past insecurities come back to haunt her, but nobody else can see that this is all because of Ellie. First her husband, then her friends and finally her daughter - all of them - beginning to doubt her, believing in Ellie, slowly driving her mad.

Elizabeth Forbes is an excellent author who has written a story that has twists and turns on every page, not once did I guess how this was going to end. The suspense builds until at times, it is almost unbearable. Cleverly weaved into the main story of Cass is Ellie's point of view - who do you believe?

Gripping, clever, tense and thrilling. This really is a fantastic read that I could hardly bear to put down and the story is going to haunt me for quite a while.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nearest thing to Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes, 4 Dec. 2013
By 
Carroty Nell "Nell" (Alaska, USA (summer) Manchester, England (winter)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Paperback)
The best psychological thriller I've read for a while.

Cass and Dan, living in a quiet backwater where nothing much ever happens, have a new neighbour - Ellie, a glamorous and mysterious novelist working on her new book. But with Ellie's arrival Cass's life begins to crumble. She's accused of misdeeds of which she has no memory. She believes Ellie told her things about herself which Ellie and the rest of Cass's friends flatly deny. And then Cass stumbles upon Ellie's manuscript - Ellie seems to have been using Cass's own life story as the basis for her plot! What is going on? Is Ellie manipulating Cass because she wants to ruin her life? If so, why? Or is Cass's mind truly going?

The story is superbly well done. The reader is kept wondering who is in the right here, Ellie or Cass. The characters leap off the page and the psychology is frightening and truly plausible. I thought the beginning of the book was a little pedestrian, but it got better and better as the story unfolded. My only quibble is that Forbes might have chosen a LESS apposite name for the main narrator - for readers with a Classical background it's a bit of a giveaway.

Excellent read, however, and thoroughly recommended.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CRACKING GOOD READ!, 24 July 2013
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Paperback)
I started reading Nearest Thing to Crazy on a train journey and was unusually disappointed to reach my destination, thereby having to stop reading this gripping tale of marriage, friendship, lies and deception! Prior to starting the novel I read the author's inspiration notes and immediately felt connected to the themes of the story. I think there must be many women who will have experienced some of the 'gaslighting' techniques in their personal relationships and I confess that I sometimes get irrationally jealous and become paranoid that I've been left out of friends' activities and wonder where my husband is when he says he's working late!! The characters were truly flawed which meant they were credible and you were swept along wondering what the consequences might be from each twist and turn. I have recommended the book to my friends and hope to read more from Elizabeth Forbes.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not really worth one star. Absolute tosh, 22 Mar. 2015
By 
L. G. Southgate "blackbird17" (Suffolk UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Kindle Edition)
I truly struggle to understand how so many people gave this five stars. One reviewer even claims to see an homage to Rebbecca. Really ? I'd like to know where exactly.
A bunch of feeble one dimensional unlikeable characters inhabit a plot of such staggering stupidity that I am cross with myself for carrying on to the end.
There are so many areas that require the suspension of disbelief.
For starters Cass had in the past suffered crippling post natal depression but on the strength of this single episode twenty one years earlierl Dan is lead to believe that she has suddenly become delusional and violent.
And what about her so called friends ? Why do they believe a perfect stranger over Cass. Why do none of them talk properly to her ? Not the kind of friends I would want. How come they are all so easily taken in ? The entire book is populated by weak and shallow ninnies.
The plot is at best ill concieved and messy, the reveal just ridiculous.
I resent the time and money I wasted on this.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth Forbes - Nearest Thing to Crazy, 17 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Kindle Edition)
I don't often write reviews as I read many, many books. 9 out of 10 of them may be good but are instantly forgettable. This book definitely falls into the other 10%. Without giving the game away I was torn between not being able to turn the pages over fast enough and thinking can I bear to turn the page over, I'm not sure I want to know! Absolutely fabulous read, highly recommended.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book and this woman, 27 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Nearest Thing to Crazy (Paperback)
Since starting this book blogging and reviewing shizz, you may have noticed that I am a MASSIVE fan of all things CEP! And now I have another book to add to the list of reasons why I LOVE CEP. I also love MS Forbes.

NTTC is nothing at all like I expected. I imagined I dunno, something a bit more deranged and on the edge. The actual book was a wonderful surprise. From the first page I was totally hooked. The italics sections suck you in more than anything as they sound like a statement, a telling of a story that you don't want to believe is true!! The mundane life of people of a certain age with lots of dosh was made so, so, so intriguing.

As the story progresses and you develop your relationship with Cass everything becomes so intensely scary that you don't know what to do! You don't want to read on as you want Cass to be ok, you want someone to help her and look after her. Yet, you have to read on to make sure that things are ok....I'm not going to tell you if they are or not, you have to read the book.

Stunningly intelligent plot that scares the absolute shit out of you and makes you question your sanity (a tad of Catch 22 about it). It also makes you think about who your friends and family are and what exactly you know or don't about them. Read this book, read it now, it'll be appealing to all for so many different reasons and I really can't wait for Ms Forbes next delight to hit my face!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read, 29 Dec. 2014
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This is at the top of my list as best read. I could not put this down, so many twists and turns I could not predict and such a great ending. Fantastic author - will be reading more of her work and I highly recommend this book - I'm sure you won't be disappointed .
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Nearest Thing to Crazy
Nearest Thing to Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes
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