Top positive review
41 people found this helpful
on 30 March 2010
I really enjoyed this novel. It's well written and a fairly quick and engrossing read, though not an easy one at times. I hadn't heard much about it or the author so came into it with no preconceptions, other than the jacket recommendations that it is in a similar vein to Nicci French, Barbara Vine and Sophie Hannah. I've read a few Nicci French and also Sophie Hannah and liked both so on that basis I was looking forward to the book.
The novel is written in the first person, and we really get inside the mind of the main character Laura Hamley. Ostensibly Laura is living the 'perfect' middle class life, two lovely children, good husband, lovely village, and super friends.
But this novel is all about peeling back the layers of the present and of the past, and seeing what's under the surface. Back in her schooldays, Laura bullied another girl, Helen 'Heddy' Partridge, and generally made her life a bit of a misery at every opportunity. This was in spite of the fact that for some reason, Laura's parents tended to push her and Heddy together, despite Laura's protests. The novel begins with Heddy's mother contacting Laura out of the blue to discuss Heddy's current unhappy state, and ask for her help. And so begins the painful and revealing trip back to the memories of those childhood days for Laura, and the confrontation with Heddy in the present day. Through these events, Laura comes to re-evaluate her current life and so-called friends, and begins to see it all for what it is, or rather what it is not.
Laura is an interesting and well rounded character, and full of flaws, it is easy to judge her, and to both like and admire her for standing up to the false and shallow people in her life and trying to change her relationships, and yet to also intensely dislike some of her bullying behaviour and cruelty towards Heddy in the past. She evidently loves her children, but the writer portrays a woman who is also aching for some of the freedoms of the past, before she had the constant round of school runs, PTA meetings, shopping, bathtimes, bedtimes etc.
A fascinating study in how someone's 'perfect world' can be exposed for what it really is, and how it can crumble apart.