Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

 

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Published By: Quercus Books

Buy It: here

 

What The Blurb Says:

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

What I Say:

Beautiful Bad is a novel that many might classify as a psychological thriller, a page turning, shocking, twisty, turny book that asks you to try and work out what really happens. It is all those things, but it is also something much more complex.  It is an acute and intricate observation of the effects of conflict and PTSD on a relationship, how the realities of being in a war torn environment has consequences not only for those who served, but also for all those who love and live with them.

When a novel’s first chapter is titled ‘The Day of the Killing’, you are immediately aware that something awful is going to happen – you just don’t know when and to whom…

Maddie and Ian are undeniably attracted to each other from the moment they meet.  He is an ex-soldier, now working as a bodyguard in Europe, and Maddie is a travel writer who frequently visits her friend Jo, a woman who is determined to ensure that people get the humanitarian supplies they need whatever the cost. Unfortunately, it transpires that Ian is currently in a relationship with a woman called Fiona, and Maddie knows she cannot get involved.

The novel switches between time lines and moves backwards and forwards. From before Maddie and Ian were a couple, to when they were, to the Day of The Killing.  I have to admit, I did find the switching between timelines a little confusing at times, but, it makes you pay attention and this is certainly a novel that commands your attention at all times.

As Maddie and Ian edge ever closer, Jo makes it very clear that she is not happy about the relationship and does everything in her power to keep them apart. When they cannot fight their attraction any more, Jo seemingly massively overreacts and Ian and Maddie are cut out of Jo’s life. It may seem like they have finally got what they wanted, but it is then that Annie Ward starts to slowly drop little hints into the plot that Ian may not be as perfect as he seems.

He and Maddie initially stay at a beautiful hotel, wrapped up in each other in the first wonderful days of their relationship, but when Maddie wants to go out to the bakery, Ian becomes extremely agitated. He convinces Maddie to stay in, with her believing that it comes from a place of love as oppose to anything more sinister. This is when the alarm bells start to ring…

When we later learn that Maddie has had an accident while away with Ian, that has left her with serious facial injuries and no memory as to how it happened, the seeds of doubt are further subtly sewn in our minds. How far can we trust Ian – really.

This sense of things not being quite right seems to form the basis of their marriage, as Ian’s work constantly takes him far away from Maddie. When she gives birth to their son Charlie, the idyllic life she had pictured for the three of them is very far from the reality of her day to day existence. Ian’s prolonged absences and intermittent communication give Maddie time to think about what is happening, and strengthens the bond between herself and Charlie so they become a tight insular family unit..

Alone, isolated and overburdened, Maddie finds that her sessions with Therapist Cami J are the very thing that will help her understand the complicated reality of her relationships with Ian and Jo. Little by little, Maddie starts to come to the conclusion that she needs to do something to stop the creeping fear that permeates her days and increasingly her nights.

From the moment Maddie starts therapy, all the events prior to arriving in her home, and what she discovers when she moves in there, slowly and deliciously start to unravel. As we head towards the shattering conclusion (still am not telling you what is going to happen!), the novel picks up its pace and finally reveals the uncomfortable truth underneath the beautiful facade which has been so purposely constructed by Ian and Maddie.

Beautiful Bad is a clever and well paced story, that works by serving to unnerve us and make sure we never quite know who to trust. It is a refreshing and smart take on the well versed psychological thriller, which Annie Ward has skilfully turned on its head and made us look at again with new eyes.

Thank you to Ella Patel at Quercus Books for my copy of Beautiful Bad in exchange for an honest review.

 

Your Guilty Secret by Rebecca Thornton

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Rebecca Thornton: Your Guilty Secret

Published By: Bonnier Zaffre

Buy It: here

 

What The Blurb Says:

You know Lara King.

The top billing of the showbiz pages, you’ve seen her every morning; over your breakfast, on your commute to work. You know everything about her; you’ve dissected her life.

Her perfect relationship with film-star Matthew Raine. Her beautiful six-year old daughter Ava.

And so when a terrible incident shatters the family’s carefully constructed facade, a media frenzy ensues.

What happens when the perfect woman begins to unravel? When her whole life is really just a lie? One she will do anything she can to stop you from finding out?

 

What I Say:

Before I posted the picture of Your Guilty Secret to my social media feeds, I took a photo of the novel on some gorgeous fabric I found, used portrait mode, and then went through all the filters on Instagram until I found the one I wanted. Finally when I was happy with how it looked, I posted it and tagged it with all hashtags I could to make sure as many people as possible saw it.

Today’s world is one presented through an Insta-perfect lense, tweaked and refined until we feel comfortable hitting the ‘post’ button.  I did all that just to show you all one picture of a novel I was going to read.  Lara King, the protagonist of Rebecca Thornton’s thought provoking and perfectly timed novel, has to go through that process for every thought, action and decision she makes. 

Lara King, celebrity, mother, and soon to be fiancee of actor Matthew seems to have it all.  Every one wants to be her, companies are desperate to be part of her empire, and she revels in the fact that millions of her followers are hanging on every post and tweet that comes from her perfect world. For Lara, life is all about living the dream as long as she can ensure that people online care enough about her brand.

Lara is intelligent enough to understand that her world is built on the adoration of her fans, and that the worst thing for her career would be that they lost interest in her mother and daughter posts. In an attempt to stay relevant, she realises that she has to expand her ‘brand’, which means she decides to get ‘engaged’ to Matthew.  Tellingly, this is purely a calculated publicity stunt to maximise both their celebrity status. It is a massive media event, with the world press and the online community desperate to see what Lara King is going to do next.  The interesting thing is that behind the scenes, as Lara attempts to control every element of the day, you can see that all is not as glossy as it seems. Lara only wants things done the way she knows will ensure she keeps getting the attention she wants.

Little by little, the reader is made aware that while what the outside world sees can be edited and filtered, in real life, there are many things which Lara cannot control however hard she tries.

One day, when Lara takes her daughter Ava for a day out, she does what many people do, and takes her eyes of her daughter for a second.  Unfortunately for Lara, her daughter disappears.

From the moment the world realises that Lara’s daughter is missing, her carefully constructed world starts to come crashing down.  The novel very cleverly show us how it is so easy to be built up on a sea of likes and unwavering adoration, but that people are just as willing to turn against you when you are no longer regarded as popular. Your choices are questioned, conspiracy theories abound, and Lara is desperately reliant on her steely media savvy to attempt to ensure her followers stay connected to her.

The novel is told in a dual narrative – Lara and her missing daughter, and Lara’s life before she found fame.  We also see what the internet thinks of what is happening- so we can understand what the ‘normal’ people are being told alongside the narrative that Lara is controlling. What is interesting is that from the outset of her time in the spotlight, Lara has a fierce determination and an unnerving ability to ensure she reaches the top whatever the cost to those around her.

To reveal any more would give the plot away, but as Lara’s perfectly curated world descends into chaos, there are many surprising twists and revelations that will disorientate and shock you! Every sentiment of our social media obsession rings true, and we see that if one person falls from grace, there are a million more waiting to step into the limelight, desperate to be this year’s next big thing.

Your Guilty Secret by Rebecca Thornton is a clever and biting examination of the social media world we are all part of.  It makes us realise that what we see is not always what we get, and that perhaps it is time for us all to step away from measuring our world in likes and followers, and instead attempt to reconnect with the real world and the people in it..

Rebecca Thornton is a journalist and runs an online advertising business. Her work has been published in Prospect magazine, the Daily Mail, the Jewish News and the Sunday People. She was acting editor of an arts and culture magazine based in Jordan, and she’s reported from Kosovo, London, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Rebecca is a graduate of the Faber Academy and The Exclusives is her first novel. She lives in London.

Thank you very much to Ellen Turner at Bonnier Zaffre for my copy in exchange for an honest review and for asking me to be part of the Blog Tour.

The Blog Tour continues with these amazing Bloggers – find out what they are saying about Your Guilty Secret…

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A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther

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Eleanor Anstruther: A Perfect Explanation

Published By: Salt Publishing

Buy It: here

What The Blurb Says:

Exploring themes of ownership and abandonment, Eleanor Anstruther’s debut is a fictionalised account of the true story of Enid Campbell (1892–1964), granddaughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll.

Interweaving one significant day in 1964 with a decade during the interwar period, A Perfect Explanation gets to the heart of what it is to be bound by gender, heritage and tradition, to fight, to lose, to fight again. In a world of privilege, truth remains the same; there are no heroes and villains, only people misunderstood. Here, in the pages of this extraordinary book where the unspoken is conveyed with vivid simplicity, lies a story that will leave you reeling.

 

What I Say:

“There was too much life, it was too fragile, it hung on a finger-point of God.  It was before her, in all its endless maybes – a thousand ways to travel, a trip on the stair, an heir ruined, another child she couldn’t love for fear of loving,”

Often you read a novel and are in awe of the creativity and depth of characterisation that a novelist has revealed during their novel. In A Perfect Explanation, Eleanor Anstruther has brought to life a story that comes from her own family history and this novel is even richer for it.  Eleanor’s Grandmother, Enid, sold her youngest son Ian to her sister Joan for £500.  Having been given permission to write this novel before her father died, Eleanor brings to life her family’s incredible and unforgettable history.

It is told from three viewpoints – that of Enid, Joan and Enid’s daughter Finetta.  The story moves between two timelines, from 1921-1931 and 1964. At the start of the novel, we meet Enid, who is living in a Christian Science nursing home and is waiting for Finetta to make her weekly visit. The other chapters help us to understand what brought Enid to this place, and why she is so estranged from her family.

We learn that after the First World War, Enid has lost her brother and father, and in order for the family to hold onto their title, it is up to Enid to ensure that the family line continues.  Her mother Sybil is unrelenting in her desire to ensure that the family holds on to their title and social standing.  Enid’s desires and dreams are buried in order to ensure Sybil gets what she wants, and she marries the teenage Douglas as a means to satisfy everyone.

Enid’s sister Joan is not married and is really not interested in doing so either, as we later learn she is contented in her relationship with a woman called Pat.  As time moves on for Enid, we see her overwhelmed and emotionally disconnected, a mother of three children, living in Southern England and absolutely bewildered as to how she has ended up there.   

To the modern reader, I think we are able to see that Enid is suffering from post-natal depression and is in a marriage that is purely one of convenience. Her husband tries to reach her, but as Enid disengages from him, he instead starts an affair and spends as much time as possible away from the marital home. When her eldest son Fagus has a life changing accident, Enid is consumed by self doubt and anxiety. You really get a sense from the powerful and beautifully understated language that Eleanor uses, that it seems Enid is half inhabiting an ever changing world where everything is going on around her and she is not really present. There is an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and hopelessness for Enid, and as a reader, at that point, I felt desperately sad for her.

Then one day, unable to live this life any longer, Enid simply gets up, and walks away from it all.

She finds solace initally in Christian Science at Didlington Hall, and falls gratefully into being part of the church community and doing repetitive and mundane tasks which mean that she can block out the enormity of what she has done.  Meanwhile, back at the family home, Donald, Sybil and Joan are left with the damage that Enid has created, and the children are shattered and bewildered by what their mother has done.

As the narrative moves on, the cracks in the Anstruther family come to the fore.  Enid and Joan have no relationship and simply do not have anything in common apart from the children.  After having been away for a long time, Enid decides to return and take back her remaining two children, as Fagus is now in a boarding school that can give him the attention he deserves.

Enid is horrified to realise that Joan provides the stability and routine for Ian and Finetta that she simply is unable to provide, and she attempts to try to take them back.  This for me was one of the most upsetting parts of the novel, as the children are forced to stay with a Mother who really doesn’t understand how to be the Mother they want.  Enid is purely focused on Ian, as the surviving heir. Her desperation to have Ian back and her desire to make sure he absolutely loves her, means that Finetta seems to be the forgotten child, a footnote to the custody case who moves back and forth with Ian but is never really listened to or heard.

I have to say that my sympathy shifted from Enid during the story.  Initially I was shocked by how alone and misunderstood she was, but as the novel moves on, I felt that her desire to have Ian back in her life was more to hold her family to ransom as it emerges she is running out of money, as oppose to a genuine desire to love him.

As the novel brings us back to 1964, and a devastating reunion between the remaining members of the Anstruther family, it seems that things will never be the same again, and Enid will finally be forced to confront the brutal realities of her heartbreaking decisions.

A Perfect Explanation is a novel that looks at a world we have left behind, a world where lineage, familial pride and privilege meant so much more that someone’s happiness.  It is also a brilliant examination of women’s place in society, and how any who did not fit into the prescribed roles laid out for them are seen as being misfits and unstable, as oppose to individuals who were simply trying to live the life they wanted to.

Eleanor Anstruther has written an astounding debut novel that bravely and completely brings to life a difficult family history. It also deftly holds up a mirror to our own world and asks us who are we to judge, when behind closed doors our family may not be as perfect as we like to show to the outside world either.

 I loved it.

Thank you very much to Agnes Rowe and Salt Publishing for my copy of A Perfect Explanation in exchange for an honest review.

Find out what my fellow bloggers are saying about A Perfect Explanation by following the Blog Tour.

 

Eleanor Anstruther was born in London, educated in Westminster and read History of Art at Manchester University before travelling the world. 

Website : www.eleanoranstruther.com

Twitter: @ellieanstruther

Instagram: @eleanoranstruther

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

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Mel McGrath: The Guilty Party

Published By: HQ Stories

Buy It: here

What The Blurb Says:

You did nothing. That doesn’t mean you’re innocent.

On a night out, four friends witness a stranger in trouble. They decide to do nothing to help.

Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames – and the group realises that ignoring the woman has left blood on their hands.

But why did each of them refuse to step in? Why did none of them want to be noticed that night? Who is really responsible?

And is it possible that the victim was not really a stranger at all?

What I Say:

‘It won’t go away, that memory, that secret. It will sink into the deeper layers of our friendship until returning to the surface someday, it will begin to destroy us from the inside.’

There is a very famous saying which I am sure you all know. ‘Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.’

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath is perhaps a perfect example of the fact that sometimes they can be one and the same thing.

Cassie, Anna, Bo and Dex seem to be a tightly knit group of friends who have known each other for ever, and are the sort of annoying cliquey group who can finish each other’s sentences and are unrelenting in telling jokes and limitless anecdotes about their friendship.

One night, whilst at a music festival, the group witness a a violent sexual assault on a young woman, and do nothing. They walk away, too fearful of the implications of getting involved, and retreat back to their own worlds.

The thing is, that Cassie cannot forget what she has seen. When a body of a woman is washed up from the Thames, the nameless woman is named as Marika, a real person who, it turns out, was actually a part of all of the group’s lives for very different reasons.

So far so formulaic you may think? This is where you are very wrong.

The Guilty Party is a clever and scathing examination of the true nature of friendship, how what you see is not always what you get. It may seem that the group lead a picture perfect life, but each of them is fractured and very adept at maintaining a facade whilst underneath their reality is far from perfect. Cassie is unhappy and desperately short of money. Anna’s seemingly wonderful marriage is far from it and she has issues around food. Dex is constantly cheating on his older husband who has cancer, and Bo may seem to be the very personification of a successful IT entrepreneur, but he has a very dark secret that would ruin him should it become public. The group also use their online Little Black Book to document the people they have been with, which could be explosive should it get into the wrong hands. Coupled with these secrets that bubble under the surface, Anna and Bo, once an item, seem to be unable to untangle their lives and determine the lines of their friendship, whilst Dex and Cassie were also an item before he came out.

As Cassie becomes more absorbed in trying to understand who the victim was, and unravelling the guilt that is seeping into and through her friends, she starts to realise that maybe each one of them had a part to play in Marika’s death.

When the group stay at an isolated cottage for the weekend, it is there that the four friends are forced to finally confront how each of them played a part in Marika’s fate. The location and distance of the cottage from the outside world means that inside the cottage becomes increasingly claustrophobic as Cassie, Anna, Bo and Dex are forced to not only confront the reality of what they have done, but also the fact that they may really not be as close as they think. It is as if increasingly their friendship is only held together by the reality that each of them has devastating secrets that they can never have exposed.

The plot moves quickly and backwards and forwards in time, which for me helped to add to the idea that you are increasingly disorientated as a reader, and are never quite sure who is telling the truth. I also really felt that each character really inhabited their voice in the book and that the different language and style of talking that Mel uses, really pulls you in to their world and gives a real insight into their characters.

Little by little, the cracks in the group start to get ever larger and it becomes evident that perhaps the greatest danger is from someone inside the group rather than the authorities. As the novel races towards its conclusion, the friends are forced to realise that they are far from innocent in Marika’s fate, and that their behaviour means that their lives will never be the same again once they leave the cottage.

The Guilty Party is the perfect definition of a page turner. I loved the pace of the novel, and the way that Mel makes you move deftly between the narrative and the characters, so you are never really sure what is going to happen next. It is a thoughtful and intelligent examination of privilege and morality, of friendship, and of understanding that sometimes the ties that bind us together are in fact the very things that also pull us apart. The Guilty Party is a brilliantly addictive novel, that deserves all the accolades it is receiving, and I absolutely loved it.

As Cassie says;

‘If you had been in the churchyard that night, what would you have done?’

‘And are you sure?’

Thank you so much to Joe Thomas at HQ Stories for my gifted copy of The Guilty Party and the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, in exchange for an honest review.

You can find out what my fellow Bloggers are saying about The Guilty Party by following the Tour below.

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Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

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Harriet Tyce: Blood Orange

Published By: Wildfire Books

Buy It: here

What The Blurb Says:

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

What I Say:

‘She and I have both let our husbands tell us how to feel bad about ourselves, carrying all the guilt for failures that belong to them too.’

Sometimes as a book blogger, it is easy to fall under a spell and believe the hype surrounding a novel. People tell you that it’s breathtaking, that it’s one you cannot afford to miss, and that your blogging life will shine less brightly if you don’t somehow manage to read it.

Let me say from the outset – absolutely believe the hype about Blood Orange.

From the very first page you are drawn into Alison’s world and become a helpless bystander and a fierce protector of her. She seems to have it all, a successful career and a lovely picture perfect family. Unfortunately, like so many of us, what you seem to see is not really what you get. Alison is having an affair with a senior colleague called Patrick – it is not a hearts and flowers romantic relationship – it is unsettling, and the sex seems at times to push the boundaries as to how consensual Alison actually is. Her husband Carl works part time as a counsellor, and is responsible for the running of the home and the childcare for their daughter Matilda.

The problem is that Alison is seemingly out of control at home and work,  as she drinks far more than she should, and is unable to be the mother, wife and career woman she desperately wants to be. Aware that her life is becoming increasingly reckless, and that Carl is now at the point where he is concerned for her spending time with her daughter, Alison tries to keep her professional life in check. This is easier said than done as she is inexplicably and constantly drawn to Patrick, who knows how much she needs him, and as a result, treats her as despicably as he wants.

When Alison is asked to defend Madeleine Smith by Patrick, a woman who is charged with the murder of her husband, she has to work with Madeleine to understand why she attacked her seemingly loving husband in such a frenzied and unprovoked attack. As Alison tries to establish herself in the case, working with Madeleine and at the same time ensuring she keeps Patrick happy with her work, as a reader I was aware of how desperately frustrating and common this scenario is. Patrick is the one who has given her the case, and she is constantly under his control which makes it even more complicated for her as the lines between personal and professional life become increasingly blurred. She may think she has the authority, but Patrick relishes in ensuring she knows he is really in charge.

In Alison, Harriet Tyce has created a character who on paper we would all perhaps aspire to be, in that on the outside she has a successful career and a solid, reliable partner who supports her in her work.

The thing is, I am writing this review in 2019, and yet the same societal entrenched issues are achingly evident in Blood Orange. Alison cannot be a successful career woman and a successful mother. If she does one, she is seen as not fully committing to the other, and our society is still very ready to admonish women for whichever choice they have to make. Alison is trying to do her best in a world which wants her to make a decision to be one thing or the other.

The men in Blood Orange are strong and dominating characters, but they are not likeable. Patrick and Carl are full of the privileges and sanctimonious speech that the patriarchal society they are born in rewards them for. Carl’s willingness to be the house husband somehow means he is regarded as noble and selfless, whilst Alison’s dedication to work and career is seen as selfish and thoughtless. Patrick is driven and ambitious, yet for Alison to admit to be those things is regarded as a sign she cannot possibly be a ‘real’ mother.

As Alison works with Madeleine to prepare her defence, she starts to understand that although they may on the surface be very different, their lives have much in common, and both of them are controlled by the men in their lives. Madeleine’s admission of murder actually comes from a place of love and protection, and as Alison desperately tries to keep everyone happy, she is forced to confront the fact that in order to free herself of all the toxicity in her life, she might just have to do the unthinkable to protect her daughter.

It is difficult to write a review of Blood Orange, because to say too much would give away everything. I loved this book because Alison isn’t perfect. She is flawed, emotional and sometimes you just want to reach into the novel and tell her to get a grip for the sake of her daughter if nothing else. The writing is raw, truthful and at times far from comfortable. The scenes between Patrick and Alison are extremely graphic, but that is only true to the nature of their relationship, which at times seemingly comes from a place of mutual hatred and a need to assert their power over each other.

In Blood Orange, Harriet Tyce has written a novel which will in turn appall, repulse and shock you.  Like Alison, it is not until the final chapters that the full horror of what has been happening will ultimately dawn on you. 

It will make you stop in your tracks, read the last chapters with your heart in your mouth, and realise that in Alison, Harriet has created a character whose flaws and faults are actually the very things that are used against her by the men who she so unfailingly trusted.

I absolutely loved Blood Orange.

Harriet has written an unlikely heroine for our times, who helps us all understand that no one ever really knows what goes on when we finally close our doors to the outside world .

Thank you so much to Georgina Moore and Wildfire Books for my gifted copy.

“All You Do Is Read A Book and Tweet About It..”

So, in today’s adventures from Book Blogging Land, I wanted to share with you a little conversation I had with someone (Not A Book Blogger), who, when I told them I wrote about books in my spare time, said the line which I have now immortalised as the title for this Blog Post…

In the last few days, I have been thinking a lot about what I do as a Book Blogger, and I guess what I wanted to share with you all is what happens when I decide to Blog about a book. I hope it helps you if you are new to blogging and don’t know where to start, or if you are just interested in knowing what it involves!

This is only my way of doing things, everyone is different, and there is no right or wrong way to do this (am getting that in there nice and early!)

  • First of all, I choose a book I want to talk about – it could be one from the library, one from my shelves or if I’m lucky, one I have been sent.
  • I have This Book, but I want to make it look attractive, so I spend time taking pictures of This Book, trying different layouts, styles and backgrounds. Finally I have it, cropped, filtered, edited and ready to upload..
  • The next step is to post This Book on my social media feed, hashtagging the title, making sure I tag the author, publisher, date of publication where relevant, where or who I got it from. I only use Twitter and Instagram, but I always make sure I post on both platforms, and do ALL the numerous hashtags on Instagram so that it’s seen by as many people as possible!
  • Then finally I read This Book – while making notes and using post it notes to highlight memorable quotes (I’m 48 years old – I often forget my childrens names or call them by the dog’s name so don’t judge me..!)
  • Hooray, now I’ve read This Book, if I’ve enjoyed it (yes, unapologetically I am a blogger who only posts positive reviews), I tweet and post on Instagram about it – again making sure I tag and hashtag everyone and everything until I can’t tag no more!
  • It’s now time to settle down and spend quite a few hours writing my blog post, and re-writing, and tweaking and checking and finally posting it. This is inbetween dealing with a husband, two teenagers and a bonkers Springer Spaniel.
  • Now I just have to get back on to my social media and tell everyone that I have written a blog post so that they can check it out and comment on it (so now I have to check and respond to all the comments on my Twitter and Instagram feeds as well as anyone who has taken the time to leave a comment on my blog).
  • Time for a cup of coffee.
  • Oooh, I think I need to read another book…
  • It starts all over again – and I love every minute of it…

There you go – some people may do much more than I do, some a lot less, and some just the same.

Do you know what? The only question you need to ask yourself is – do you enjoy doing it? If you do, then that’s all that matters…

Love

Clare xx

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Alex Michaelides: The Silent Patient

Published By: Orion Books

Buy It: here

What The Blurb Says:

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

 

What I Say:

As regular readers (Thank you Mum and Dad), of my blog will know, I am not one for posting pictures or videos of myself on the interweb to publicise books.  Sometimes, when you read something that is so brilliant, that gives you that ‘WHAT THE ??’ reaction, sitting down, firing up your laptop and being witty and erudite at the time is not what it needs.

The picture you see on this blog post, is me, just after I had read #ThatPage of The Silent Patient.  I can honestly say, this is the first novel in a long time that has made me stop and re-read the previous pages to see if I missed any clue, any sign of what was to come (spoiler alert  – not one thing!).

The Silent Patient is the story of Alicia and Gabriel. A happy Instaperfect couple who seemingly have it all.  In love, successful and full of life, they inhabit a world we can only dream of – until Alicia shoots and kills Gabriel, and from that day on she does not speak.

Baffled by her mutism, unable to understand why Alicia killed Gabriel, she is sent to The Grove, a secure unit where she is sedated, silenced and unable to communicate with anyone.

Theo Faber decides that he is the therapist who can finally reach Alicia.  He is determined to be the one person who can make her talk and explain why she killed her husband.  The thing is, Theo is not doing this out of the kindness of his heart, he has an agenda.  He is fully aware of the kudos and celebrity cracking a case like this will bring, and his self-assured manner and downright arrogance means that from the start, you sense that he doesn’t truly have her best interests at heart.  Theo is mesmerised by Alicia, and will do whatever it takes to ensure he is the man she will owe her recovery to.

Alicia’s silence is due in part to the heavy doses of medication she has to take, and when Theo convinces Diomedes, the head of the unit to decrease the dosage so he can start to try and communicate with her, you know that this is finally the start of the process of Alicia’s recovery.

As Theo starts to work with Alicia, his personal life is also brought into focus, we understand that things are not going well for him with his wife Kathy, and he is forced to confront the fact that is own marriage may not be as happy as he believed. As a result, the ethical lines start to become blurred, and Theo researches Alicia’s life before Gabriel was killed.  He becomes increasingly obsessed with Alicia, and wants to be her saviour, which means that he will do whatever he needs to to ensure he is the one person she relies on.

I think that the notion of power is a very interesting one that runs throughout this book. Theo believes he is the powerful one as he has the academic knowledge to make that vital breakthrough with Alicia, but increasingly it becomes clear that she has all the power in the relationship.  As she comes off her medication, Alicia does not suddenly start to talk in a bid to prove her innocence.  She delights and frustrates Theo in equal measure, communicating with non verbal gestures, then retreating completely.  It is only when Theo sets up a room for Alicia with all her painting materials that he starts to see she is communicating to him through her art.  It is also worth noting that Alicia at the time of the murder, was working on a self portrait she had called Alcestis – the story of a woman who gave her life for her husband, and when she was returned to life, she was mute, filled with rage that her husband would allow her to sacrifice herself so he could live.

When Alicia gives Theo her diary to read, he feels that he has finally made the breakthrough he had been desperate for, and that his success will only be matched by Alicia’s gratitude. Even more amazingly, when Alicia finally starts to speak, she is able to finally start to fill in the events surrounding Gabriel’s death and make sense of what had happened to her.

From that point on, The Silent Patient twists and turns and pulls and pushes you, hurtling towards that exquisite moment when the penny finally drops, and you will finally understand why I posted that picture!  In The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides has written a triumphant first novel.  It is perfectly plotted and filled with characters who delight and revolt you with equal measure, as you turn the pages desperate to understand why Alicia does not speak.  The Silent Patient is a debut novel that achieves that rare phenomenon of being an absolute jaw dropping page turner,  but is a clever dissection of the power of speech and mental health too. You will be hearing a lot about this novel, and quite rightly so – it might only be February, but it is one of my novels of the year.

Buy it, read it, and when you get to ‘that moment’, you will understand exactly why I absolutely loved it.

Thank you to Poppy Stimpson and Ben Willis at Orion for gifting me a copy, and to Alex Michaelides for helping me well and truly get my reading mojo back!