review by Maryom
One Friday afternoon, stepping out of her local off-licence, Nina is taken aback to see a well-remembered face from the past. The other woman, Emma, struggling with a baby buggy, doesn't notice or recognise her, and as the weeks pass, and summer moves on into autumn, Nina tries to forget the incident ...but finds she can't. Nina starts to contrive reasons for the two of them to meet, drawing Emma into her life, but her reasons are far from honest. Long ago, Emma's actions hurt Nina; Emma may not remember but Nina does - and she's not going to let Emma off the hook again.
Her is a curious book - for much of it not a lot really happens but even so the writing style pulled me in; I really wanted to discover what Emma had done in her past to so offend Nina, why Nina recognises Emma but not vice versa, what exactly Nina's intentions are - obviously not a cheery Hello, nice to meet after all this time! - and I just couldn't put the book down till I had all the answers.
The story is told in first person from the alternating perspectives of Nina and Emma; maybe there's a little too much of showing incidents from both points of view as sometimes the accounts are too similar but it gets the reader into the heads of these two women, contrasting Nina's machinations with Emma's innocence, and creating an atmosphere filled with menace.
From the lead-up, I'd expected more drama in the denouement - it actually creeps up quietly with both reader and character only gradually realising the enormity of what has happened. The ending itself is tricky and ambiguous - but it worked for me.
I'm not quite sure it lives up to the tag of psychological thriller but it's a great compelling read, filled with a growing sense of discomfort and dread.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Orion (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Genre - adult, psychological thriller,