I read this in almost one session. Was it THAT good, I hear you ask? More of that later but I will quantify that by also saying it was a very hot day and reading was a perfect and enjoyably activity for the conditions.
I make no secret of loving a debut novel, the potential of experiencing a new, important voice. But I also relish the follow up, ‘that difficult second album’ syndrome. I love to see how a writer develops in style and in confidence dispelling any suggestion that they might be a one trick pony. I think Jessie Burton is a perfect recent example. So having enjoyed Try Not To Breathe, Ms. Seddon’s debut work I was bubbling with enthusiasm to read her next offering.
This is another uncomfortable read with little in the way of light relief. And if I’m honest there was much to potentially irritate me; split chronologies that dance from one decade and person to another and back again, yet another flawed narrator/protagonist, (although here we have two!), so in vogue in today’s writing, and the device of a character seeing events unfold through the windows of buildings is fast becoming a cliche. BUT it didn’t irritate me here.
The characters engaged me and sucked me into the vortex of the storyline where there was no escape. I suppose it is a book about people believing they are doing their best in any given situation but falling far short in msot cases with devastating, far reaching consequences. Some almost dystopian family dynamics at play here that chill your heart.
The writing style is recognisable as Holly Seddon’s from her first book, whilst the content may be uncomfortable reading the writing flows easily and accessibly.
The plot deals with some sensitive and challenging issues so much so that the writer saw fit to acknowledge this in her afterword affirming her intention to have dealt with these issues respectfully and sensitively. I’d say she did.
I think what does pull this book together is the twist at the end which seemed ultimately to make the entire novel worthwhile. One of those delicious ‘never saw it coming’ moments.
Don’t expect to come away from this book feeling uplifted unless it is to celebrate some compelling writing. And that brings me to my opening premise as to whether this books was so good it needs to be read in one session. I’m not gonna say!! Go read it for yourself!!