- About the Author
- On Active Service
I read this book because I had enjoyed “Alys Always” by the same author.
It started well, grabbing my attention immediately and drawing me on as I wondered who the two protagonists were and what their connection was. Harriet Lane has an engaging style of writing. I felt I knew both characters immediately and the switch between the two was well executed. There were occasions, however, when I became slightly irked by the repetition: the re-telling of scenes by each person becoming unnecessary and monotonous.
The descriptions, as in “Alys Always” were amazing. The author has the knack of conjuring up an atmosphere in just a few phrases. I particularly liked this:
“It’s a beautiful evening. Monica Prewitt is out in her front garden, trimming the lavender bush, filling a trug with the spent straws and the fragrance of it drifts down the street. Someone in number 34 is practising Chopin in front of an open window, going over the same bars, making the same mistakes: a pleasant, mildly melancholy sound. The pavements are warm and dappled with sunshine.”
Similarly her characters are well drawn: the innocently trusting Emma and the conniving “Nina” whose intentions remain unknown until right at the end.
Their separate lives are wonderfully observed, particularly Emma’s with her chaotic daily struggle with two small children, a time of life that will be recognised by any who have been in that situation.
As in “Alys Always” some of the descriptions are overblown. In this case the holiday home in France is just too good to be true!
The storyline leads you on. It is well-paced , despite the minor niggle I mentioned before of the repetition of scenes from the protagonists’ individual viewpoints.
The well-kept secret, on which the whole book depends, is, however a huge let-down: it turns out to be a slender premise on which to base such a vendetta.
Despite the lead-up and the sense of tension built up through the entire book the ending is powerful and shocking and it is a book that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it: for all the wrong reasons.
Bethany Askew is the author of seven novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days, Poppy’s Seed, Three Extraordinary Years and The Two Saras.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Two more women’s fiction books have been accepted for publication in 2020 and 2021 respectively and she is currently working on a new novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.