My review of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Holly Seddon

book cover, from Holly's website

I imagined Paul strutting home, a girl on each arm, somehow sporting a moustache and a foot of extra height. Moustachioed imaginary Paul would look down at me as he glided past with his harem.

‘Who’s she?’ the girls would chirrup.

‘Her?’ Paul would laugh. ‘Oh, she’s nobody.’

Kate and Paul have been married for nearly ten years and have two beautiful children—Isabel and Harry. Paul works in advertising and Kate spends her time looking after the kids. However, despite the appearance of happiness, Kate and Paul are both dissatisfied with their relationship.

As they’re preparing for their anniversary trip to Cornwall, Kate stumbles upon a letter, carefully hidden inside a book in their library. What she reads in it will change her life, and marriage, forever. But, now that Kate knows, she needs to tell Paul. Before she’s able to muster the courage to do so, she tries to discern the emotional truth of her marriage. She thinks back over her history with Paul—they grew up together in Somerset, and were best friends during childhood and adolescence, before separating to go to university. It was only after he moved to London, for work, that they started a relationship.

Told in first person, from Kate’s perspective, and alternating between her past and present, Seddon delivers a story brimming with suspense as she paints an empathetic portrait of a relationship in jeopardy.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Seddon’s first two novels, I was looking forward to reading her third. I was not disappointed. If anything, I enjoyed this novel even more. While Seddon’s work falls into the thriller/suspense categories, her stories focus primarily on character—how a specific character came to be who they are and what makes them act as they do. It’s this well-considered interplay between her characters’ motivations and her plot that makes her work such a joy to read. In Love Will Tear Us Apart, there’s also a romantic element, which enhances the story further. It was this last aspect that particularly stayed with me after finishing the book. As always, Seddon raises some interesting questions that resonate beyond the bounds of her story.  I can’t wait to read her next novel!

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Love Will Tear Us Apart is published by Corvus and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Visit Holly’s website to learn more about the book and her writing.

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My review of Don’t Close Your Eyes, by Holly Seddon

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For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember having read my review of Holly’s first novel, Try Not to Breathe, back in January 2016. As with her first novel, Don’t Close Your Eyes is a fast-paced, gripping psychological thriller filled with surprises you won’t see coming, but which make perfect sense in light of the story and characters.

Though twins, Robin and Sarah had very little in common growing up in the small village of Birch End, near Reading. Robin was outspoken, rowdy and wild while Sarah was eager to please and the picture of propriety. Still, almost despite themselves, the sisters were close. Then, one day, a new boy shows up at their school—Callum Granger. Sarah immediately gets a crush on him and before long Callum is fast friends with both Robin and Sarah. Shortly thereafter, their parents meet, and also become good friends. Before the kids know it they’re spending all their weekends together at one or the other of their houses. From there events spiral in a way that no one could have foreseen.

Now adults, Robin and Sarah live very different lives, in separate parts of the country. Robin, an ex-musician, lives alone in a flat in Manchester while Sarah lives with her partner and daughter in a house in Godalming, Surrey. But neither of their lives is going well. Robin suffers from severe agoraphobia, making it almost impossible for her to leave her home. Meanwhile, Sarah is facing an almost unbelievable turn of events in her relationship—her partner, Jim, has declared her unfit to look after their child and is taking their daughter away to be cared for by his parents. Powerless, Sarah leaves her home and checks into a B & B, hoping to somehow come up with a plan to regain custody of her daughter.

The story is told alternately between the adult and child versions of Robin and Sarah. This generally works well to both speed the story along and to give a full picture of their lives.  However, there were a few places where it felt like the author was flitting between them and it would have been nice to settle in just a bit more with each character before moving on. Of course, upon reflection, this unsettling effect is likely what Holly Seddon was aiming for when she chose to structure and pace her novel in this way.

Don’t Close your Eyes is an insightful and thoroughly disquieting read from a masterful storyteller.

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Don’t Close Your Eyes is published by Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books and is available from Amazon and all good bookstores.

You can follow Holly on Twitter at: @HollySeddon

Like her page on Facebook: Facebook/HollySeddonAuthor

Or visit her website: http://hollyseddon.com/

 

 

My review of Try Not to Breathe, by Holly Seddon

Firstly I would like to thank Holly Seddon for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest review.

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‘How terrible to have no voice,’ said Alex, as she took scribbled notes and swayed, nauseated, amongst the electric hum of the hospital ward.

Since the tender age of fifteen, Amy Stevenson has lain comatose in a hospital bed, the victim of a vicious attack which left her nearly dead. Her attacker has never been found. Amy’s family gave up on her long ago and her only visitor is Jacob Arlington, her boyfriend from high school, who is now married and with a child on the way. Jacob visits Amy in secret, when his wife, Fiona, isn’t around to catch him doing so. Jacob has never quite been able to bring himself to discuss Amy with her.

Alex Dale has been assigned to write an article on Dr Haynes, the eminent neurologist who works on Amy’s ward. When Alex hears Amy’s story, it strikes a chord with her. Alex and Amy are the same age. Whereas Amy’s life has been brutally taken from her, Alex has been struggling to face hers, choosing to drink away what little life she has left. Writing about these patients is about all Alex can manage—if she can even manage that.

When Alex hears that doctors have recently discovered Amy isn’t actually brain dead and is able to communicate in a primitive way, Alex feels a sense of duty towards Amy. Perhaps by learning more about Amy, Alex can shed new light on the case. After all, Amy couldn’t possibly be the only victim. But will Alex manage to solve the crime before her own weakness overcomes her, and if she does, will anyone bother to listen to her?

We are all equally vulnerable to what life throws at us, it’s how we behave in the circumstances that matters. And Seddon’s prose behaves beautifully given her challenging subject matter and multiple narrative viewpoints. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and shall look forward to reading whatever Seddon chooses to write next.

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon is published by Corvus (Atlantic). It is available from Amazon UK now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Try-Not-Breathe-Holly-Seddon/dp/1782399453/  

It is released  in the US/Canada on 23rd February 2016, where it is available for pre-order.

http://www.amazon.com/Try-Not-Breathe-Holly-Seddon/dp/1101885866/

Follow Holly Seddon on tumblr: http://hollyseddon.tumblr.com/

Twitter: @hollyseddon

Like her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hollyseddonauthor