Friday, 18 April 2014

Keep your friends close - Paula Daly

From the publishers blurb:

Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty’s oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears – just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France – Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.

Two weeks later and Natty finds Eve has slotted into family life too well. Natty’s husband has fallen in love with Eve. He’s sorry, he tells her, but their marriage is over.

With no option but to put a brave face on things for the sake of the children, Natty embarks on building a new life for herself.

And then she receives the note.
Eve has done this before ......

Having read, enjoyed and reviewed this authors debut novel Just what kind of Mother are you I was impatient to get stuck into this one, her second offering. So I was delighted when Netgalley approved my request for an advance ebook copy to review.

Brand new this year and already receiving great accolade, this rollercoaster of misplaced trust, hidden pasts, secrets, betrayal and psychological mayhem grabs you by the short and curlies from paragraph one and compels you to keep turning the pages until the dead of night when your eyes feel like charcoals and your heart is hammering.

Narrated by Natty a busy working mother of 2 much loved teenage girls, who runs a hectic and successful hotel in the Lake District with her husband Sean, (who turns out to be a weak and spineless little toad I wanted to strangle)

Their frantically busy life is a success story, even if it means they sometimes have to forfeit a little "me time" in favour of work and Natty in particular finds herself torn between being an excellent Mum, a conscientious hotelier and a good wife. Things are going well when - BAM, onto the scene arrives sophisticated Eve, Natty's oldest friend and confidante from back at University, paying a visit following the break up of her own relationship and fresh off the plane from the USA.

How fortunate she is there and able to step into the breach when the unthinkable happens and Natty needs to jump on a plane herself to rush to the hospital bedside of her youngest daughter, taken ill on a school trip. One worry is eased from her shoulders as Eve offers to stay for a day or two and care for the other daughter. And off goes Natty unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to be crumbled like a stock cube between the elegant and conniving fingers of Eve who deliberately sets out to seduce the weak and unresisting Sean and get her feet firmly under Nats table.

By the time she comes back home, life as she knew it is gone, stolen by Eve and spiralling into a pit of despair, anger and hurt Natty struggles to come to term with her feelings and how to cope with her despair.

This is where I began to love Natty, she is very human and perfectly flawed, instead of being stoical and brave or acting the weak and helpless female she copes in the best way she can, loses her temper, gets angry, swears a lot and behaves as unpredictably as I would in a similar situation (God forbid) Her inconsistent reactions contrast beautifully in comparison to the usual predictable moods of most wronged protagonists.

There are some fabulous characters, beautifully constructed and incredibly real including a reappearance of Policewoman Joanne Aspinall and her Aunt Jackie from the authors first book. Like Natty's lovely dope smoking Dad and her mother in law who suggests a way for Natty to cope with losing her life her home, husband and hotel Management job might be to volunteer for a few hours a week in a lovely little charity shop!

It's the characters and wry twists of subtle humour which help a book with a dark and twisted story about the blackest and most appalling topics readable and amazingly enjoyable. I don't think I can really put into words quite how brilliant this book is, I loved it and highly recommend it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers and gritty family dramas. I can't say too much more about the story as you'll have to read it to discover what a devious cow Eve actually is, what secrets are hidden beneath the veneer of tranquil Lake District life.

It ends on a bit of cliff hanger which left me screaming to know just a little bit more, about what happens afterwards. I wonder if the author, having successfully introduced characters from her previous novel into this one, may, in her next book brush lightly on this story to tie up a few tiny wisps of loose thread left dangling in the breeze? I for one will be at the front of the queue to read it regardless.

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