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Bit too much whingeing for me
on 28 August 2013
SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREIN! My mum lent me this book because I'd just returned from a holiday in the lovely Isle of Wight (a most beautiful place) and I've got to say that the main thing I enjoyed in the book was revisiting the locations I am now familiar with through Whitehouse's prose; particularly being as we stayed in some eerily similar cottages (and encountered an equally eerily similar cat as the one in Whitehouse's novel) during our hols, in Yarmouth. (It made me question if the author had stayed there too whilst writing her book!)
Sadly, for me, that's where the charm of the book began and ended. The main character is introspective, self-pitying, carping and basically deserves everything she gets. If there ever was a singularly appropriate title for a novel, it's the one for this book, because the heroine in it, has definitely made her own bed and brought all of her misfortunes upon herself.
So the slightly unlikely premise is as follows: Kate (a woman prone to drinking too much, over self-analysing, dread of being alone and overreacting, as we are told during the first few pages) meets Richard, an arrogant, confident man who I couldn't make a clear picture of in my mind from the author's description, but a great deal of her account of him is based around his eyebrows, so I kind of just pictured a dark bloke with satanic eyebrows (picture him with me if you will...) and goes home to bed with him on the first night of meeting. A slightly strange relationship then develops between the pair, whereby anyone with one iota of sense can see that Richard is a power-hungry psychopath intent on controlling Katie's every move, and Katie believes she's in love with him.
Despite Katie assuring us that she is really really much cleverer than anyone else (including you poor brain-cell deprived reader!), she falls completely under his spell and even falls for such old chestnuts as "my wife doesn't understand me..." when she finds out he's married; and, "NO! I haven't got any children... oh, apart from that one.. Oh, and the other woman I got pregnant whilst I was in a relationship with you..."
Finally, Katie wakes up and smells the coffee and flees (for her life by this stage after discovering much too late that Richard is not the rich single charmer she thought he was, but a married, fraudulent psychopath with violent tendencies, who comes complete with a battered wife, a (probably terrified) son, in addition to satanic eyebrows. So where does she go? (Now ask yourself, where would you go if you were in this situation? The Police station? Somewhere where you have no previous connections and not tell ANYONE where you are so there's no chance of being tracked down? Or a small island where you used to go on holiday and everyone knows everyone and is probably very happy to point out the location of the latest newby on the island to any passing psychopath with satanic eyebrows who happens to chance by?) And perhaps, to help things along, you could broadcast where you are going to a few family and friends as well.
Yes, that's right, clever Katie flees to the Isle of Wight; so not only is she within easy driving distance of London (where said psychopath lives) but is also marooned on an island when he inevitably catches up with her.
What follows is according to the blurb "a game of cat and mouse", but what I interpreted as a stream of whingeing from our heroine who then builds upon earlier mistakes by getting involved with a man who she initially suspects of murdering his wife, or at least driving her to suicide. (Oh yes, she's got a taste for psychopaths by this stage).
The reader doesn't have to be a genius to work out what will happen. Said Psychopath arrives (with a gun). Fortunately when he arrives Katie is safe in a pub. But oh no! She decides to leave with him ALONE, fails to call for help, thus leaving herself open to being shot.
In short, I found that despite Katie's assurances that she is very, very clever, she was, in my opinion, not the sharpest tool in the box. Similarly, thanks to all the carping and complaining endured by myself during the previous three hundred pages, I didn't really care if she got shot or not. In fact, by page 283, I've got to admit, I was rooting for the psychopath.
The Independent on Sunday reviewed this as "Gripping, believable and unnerving". I found it irritating, far-fetched and just a bit silly really. The plot was muddled with far too many extraneous bits in it which didn't tie up at the end (it would have been so much better if Richard has just shot them all, excluding the cat, and burned the yachts before heading back to the mainland), the characters were undeveloped, annoying and unengaging. I enjoyed seeing the cat again though, so it wasn't all bad.