Thursday, 15 September 2011


Genre:  Contemporary Fiction/Psychological Fiction
Published:  Transworld Publishers  (7 July 2011)
Pages:  457  (Paperback)
Source:  Part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge 
My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

A chance encounter: When Sarah meets dark, brooding Alex,she grasps his offer of a new life miles away from her own. They’ve both recently escaped broken relationships, and need to start again. Why not do it together?

A perfect life: But when Sarah gets to the tiny village of Burrington Stoke, something doesn’t add up. Alex’s beautiful wife Genevieve was charming, talented, and adored by all who knew her. And apparently, she and Alex had a successful marriage complete with a gorgeous son, Jamie. Why would Genevieve walk out on her perfect life? And why has no one heard from her since she did so?

A web of lies: Genevieve’s family and all her friends think that Alex knows more about her disappearance than he’s letting on. But Sarah’s fallen in love with him and just knows he couldn’t have anything to hide. Or could he? 

The story starts in Italy when Sarah first meets Alex and his young son, Jamie, on holiday.  Sarah is the narrator throughout and she is recovering from the trauma of recently losing her new born baby and then discovering her partner's infidelity, so she is quite vulnerable and that's probably why she jumps at the chance of a fresh start when Alex asks her to come and live with him and help to look after Jamie.

Her family and friends all thinks she's mad and she also has doubts as she thinks "what if Alexander was a conman, or worse?  Even if he had not actively abused his wife, she had her reasons for leaving him - and to leave the child, too, he must have done something awful.  He may be one of those Jekyll and Hyde characters, a charmer on the surface and an insecure and possessive control-freak on the inside."

Louise Douglas puts this seed of doubt in Sarah's head and this sets the tone for the rest of the book and, because we only know what Sarah is thinking, we don't actually know what everyone else is really thinking.  I thought this worked really well as I was never sure who to trust and I kept changing my mind as I wondered what could have happened to Genevieve.  Also the fact that Alex didn't talk very much about his feelings and his past life all added to the suspense.

Sarah's imagination starts to play tricks on her as she is all alone in the old creaky house in the middle of nowhere - did she really see Genevieve in the mirror and what are those scratching sounds in the wall?  

I was completely engrossed in this story as Sarah tries to make sense of her new life and surroundings and the people around her, with the shadow of Genevieve always in the background.  

Although this isn't an original plot .... it has been compared to the classic story of Rebecca which I haven't yet read .... I thoroughly enjoyed it as the tension gripped me until the end.

This is the 2nd book I've read for the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge.

Louise Douglas's website is here, but it looks like it hasn't been updated recently as there is no mention of this book!  But you can read about her other published books. 

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