5 / 5 Stars
Wow. Just WOW. Fabulous book, well deserving of a full 5*.
I thought this looked like a curious read, so put in a request...and boy, am I glad I did! This is a beautifully seeded, skilfully written book, full of deceit, unsettling characters and page-turning twists.
The story focuses on two characters: Olivia, a successful historian / author, who seemingly has the perfect life, and Vivian, a shady housekeeper whose past is largely concealed until the very end. Throughout, the reader dips into both their lives, particularly their joint work on a book called Annabel, about a woman largely forgotten by history, who killed her husband.
It soon becomes apparent that Vivian is mentally unhinged, not to mention has an unhealthy obsession with dung beetles (though this all becomes clear at the end). Olivia, despite seeming in control, is actually living a life spun of lies, with a destructive marriage, a problematic relationship with her kids, and ultimately, a lack of integrity when it comes to fact-checking her books.
So many moments in this book sent genuine shivers down my spine. Vivian's stalking of Olivia on her holiday in France. The sinister cutting of Olivia's daughter's hair. The eerie obsession with Bertie the terrier. The growing sense of creepy discomfort was masterfully paced, and the author showed perfect restraint with her gradual revelations. In fact, there's nothing I could fault, really. Highly impressive indeed!
I finished this book in a day, which shows just how gripping it was. An EXCELLENT read, and I'll definitely be on the look-out for more of Lucy Atkins' books in the future.