Beneath the Skin is a stunning debut psychological Domestic Noir drama about a life-changing lie.
Caroline England’s, Beneath The Skin is a tense and compelling read, exploring truth, friendships and betrayal.
No-one remembers your past. But you do.
‘Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’
It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets. Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.
Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth.
Antonia is safe. Isn’t she? The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?
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He stands and stares. Is Olivia laughing? He isn’t sure. He hardly recognises her.
‘How would you know?’ she repeats. ‘Tell me, Mike. You’re never here. And even when you are here you’re in some unreachable place. You don’t notice me, you don’t notice the girls.’
‘That isn’t true.’ He sees his daughters in his mind, dancing to Rihanna. ‘Of course I notice you all. Come on, Olivia, this isn’t like—’
‘When was the last time you gave me a compliment?’ Olivia isn’t laughing, she’s crying, but the soft contours of her pale face are gone. ‘When was the last time you bought me a box of chocolates or some flowers? I had my hair cut last week and you didn’t even notice.’
He gazes at her hair. It’s blonde, elfin short; it suits her petite face and her frame. ‘I did notice. Of course I noticed. It looks lovely. But flowers, chocolates? Come on, Olivia, you don’t do chocolates.’
‘Fuck the chocolates, then. Fuck everything. You just continue to take it for granted that I’m going to be here, the little wife with a smiling face when you come home, your bloody dinner waiting on the table.’
He catches his breath. This is Olivia, calm, capable, witty Olivia; Olivia who takes everything in her stride. She’s never been and will never be ‘the little wife’. She’s clever, opinionated and strong. He stares again, aware that life has shifted, that the world has somehow moved without him noticing.
‘What do I do on a Tuesday, Mike? You never ask me how I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve done. I could be anywhere, with anyone. You’re just so used to me I’ve become invisible.’
‘That isn’t true. Really. You never said,’ he replies quietly.
‘I shouldn’t have to say anything. If you loved me, Mike, you’d see, you’d know.’
She stares at him for a moment, searching his face, her amber eyes wide and sad. ‘What’s the point?’ she mutters, then walks into the kitchen and closes the door.
A wisp of a thought enters Mike’s head, an impulse to turn around and walk out of the door he entered only minutes earlier. But it’s only a thought and only for a moment as his eyes catch the pink fur of Hannah’s favourite slippers. She’s under the stairs, hidden from view, her arms around her knees and her blonde head buried.
‘Is it my fault, Daddy?’
‘Of course it isn’t.’ Mike pulls her to him, his beautiful bag of bones, breathing in the cosy smell of shampoo and baked beans. ‘It’s Daddy’s fault. Don’t worry, I’ll make it all better, I promise,’ he says, hugging his warm living child tightly to his heart, wondering where on earth he should begin.
Intrigued? I know I am. But I'm fortunate enough to have my copy waiting to be read. I love a dark domestic Noir and this promises to be scary and tense.
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