Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Who Are You - Elizabeth Forbes

From the publishers description

Alex, a career officer in an elite regiment, returns from Afghanistan a changed man. He has left the Army behind and is attempting to forge a civilian career as a security advisor. His wife, Juliet, is delighted. She, Alex and their son Ben now live in a well-appointed house in a leafy London suburb.
But all is not well. Juliet's research on the internet suggests that Alex is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but pride means that he will not seek professional help.
Finding solace in web forums, Juliet is offered the use of a cottage and is urged to remove Ben to a place of safety. After a lot of secretive planning and the financial support of Alex's mother who had suffered at the hands of her husband, Juliet and Ben escape the tyranny of their home with the hope of starting afresh...

My thoughts ....

Finished this serious head-fuck of a thriller late last night - blew me away!

Juliet and Alex are a young married couple with a little boy Ben. Juliet is hell bent on creating the perfect home, she has a mental image of being part of the ideal family in a glossy magazine home, surrounded by impeccable neighbours. But this utopian dream eludes her. Alex has been away fighting in Afghanistan and despite longing for his return, he has come back to her a shadow of his former self. Gone is the strong, supportive, caring rock she has built her dreams on and in his place the Alex with whom she is now living is cruel, cold and dangerous to get on the wrong side of.

Getting on the wrong side of him is easy for Juliet, the only way she feels she has any control in their marriage is the small ways she can wind him up and goad him into a reaction, even if that reaction is far from the response she desires.

Both had a fractured upbringing and both of them are flawed, their backgrounds something each partner originally sought to protect the other from, but quite how flawed both are, creeps up on you insidiously and terrifyingly. The author does a sensational job of not allowing you to really make up your mind which, if either party is the least or most reliable narrator and I wavered from being on one side to being on the others side whilst heartily disliking and despising both of them yet I wasn't without sympathy either - brilliantly done!

Juliet becomes so unable to cope with her husband who is so removed from the man she fell deeply in love with and whom she is certain is suffering from Post traumatic stress disorder, but is unable and unwilling to admit it, that she seeks support from an on-line forum; something I think most of us can relate to, and she finds help and advice from another woman who has been in a similar situation. Soon her own situation takes darker and more dreadful turns (be warned ... this book is VERY graphic and I found some scenes harrowing and stomach turning yet vital to paint the bleak picture of the situation this couple are in) She knows she must take action to save herself and 5 year old Ben from the desolate sham her marriage has turned into.

This book shows how circumstances shape lives, and victim can turn to culprit and once you're on that downward spiral nobody is going to show up and rescue you unless you take matters in your own hands, and even then, how can you be sure you're doing the right thing?

It is merciless and barbaric and yet heart wrenching too, it plays with your mind and gets in your head and is as twisted as anything I've ever read. It seems almost depraved to admit how much I enjoyed reading it, but if you like your mind to be tweaked and enjoy your psychological thrillers to be raw and abrasive you'll love this.

My thanks to Netgalley and Cutting Edge Press for providing me with a copy to review and to Elizabeth Forbes for making sure I had a sleepless night or two!!

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