The Secrets Between Us
- Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 24 May 2012
- Modern & Contemporary
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I read and reviewed this book as part of the Transworld Book Group. Sarah is recovering after the stillbirth of her baby, and finding out about her partner's affair with her friend. She goes to Sicily with her sister and brother in law, and meets Alexander, a man to whom she feels a strong emotional pull. Alexander is there with his young son, Jamie, and Sarah immediately takes to both father and son.Back home in England, Alexander invites Sarah to go and live with him, ostensibly as a housekeeper but a relationship soon develops between them. However, the ghost of Alexander's missing wife, Genevieve is a constant presence in their lives, home, and in the tiny village of Burrington Stoke.This is a brilliant book and I loved every minute of it. Louise Douglas has really managed to put across the small village feel of everybody knowing everybody else's business, and the oppressive feeling of moving into the home and life of somebody who was adored by everybody she met. I was kept guessing throughout the whole book as to what had happened to Genevieve, whether Alexander was implicated, whether Sarah was going crazy. It's a book that is full of suspense and for me it definitely fulfils the gothic tag that it has earned itself.The Secrets Between Us is a very accomplished piece of writing. I've read another book by this author, The Love of My Life, which I also loved, but they are quite different books and different styles, and I think she is proving to be a versatile writer.
This is a fabulously atmospheric and disturbing read that gradually builds to a gripping conclusion that was incredibly easy to visualise. Sarah and Alex meet on holiday where Sarah felts drawn to this quiet, attractive but troubled man and his young son coping with the departure of Alex's wife. When he offers her a job it provides her with the opportunity to escape from her own grief over betrayals and loss. She leaves friends and family to move to his rural home to act as housekeeper for him and Jamie but is she rushing things!On arrival she very quickly starts to have doubts about whether she has done the right thing as family and friends of Genevieve seek to discover what has happened to her. Could the man she is fallling in love with be a murderer? Why is she not getting in touch with her family? How could she have left Jamie? As Sarah begins to obsess about Genevieve she starts to have have supernatural flashes that become very disturbing and although some of the ideas could be seen as cliches the story really engages you and the writing is so powerful you can ignore that as you become absorbed in Sarah's dilemmas and difficulties.The book has short chapters that help to move the story along and it is incredibly easy to find yourself sitting up late reading thinking one more chapter; thus make sure you start reading it when you haven't got an early start the next morning!!I would thoroughly recommend this book to all those who enjoy psychological thrllers and mysteries; it would make a fabulous TV drama as it is made very visually strong through the writing. You can certainly see the Rebecca/Du Maurier parallels but the added dimensions in this book make for a satisfying twist on that story rather than it being a poor imitation. I read this as part of the Transworld Challenge and loved it.
Sarah is at her most vulnerable when she first meets Jamie and Alexander. She is on holiday with her sister and brother in law, and emotionally raw from the stillbirth of a child and the subsequent breakdown of her marriage, not to mention her husband's infidelity with a friend.The beginning of the story is a bit implausible - Sarah meets Jamie first, who tells her his mummy's gone, and imagines what could have been with her stillborn baby. Then after looking at Alexander in his swimwear, they find themselves with 15 minutes to have sex. This is followed by Alexander offering her a job rather than a relationship, as a carer for Jamie - Sarah accepts and moves across the country - what has she to lose?Even during this weird beginning, though, the book is better than it sounds - I was quickly engaged by Sarah's story and Louise Douglas skilfully builds up her characters and the developing relationships between them. I was very taken with the portrait of Sarah's relationship with Jamie, as an instant rapport is replaced by understandable distrust and then she gradually wins him over.I fell for this book, its characters and storytelling nearly as fast as Sarah falls for Jamie and Alexander. However, this is a suspense novel as much as a love story. Alexander's beautiful, glamorous wife Genevieve has vanished in suspicious circumstances, and he is the prime suspect. Sarah can not believe he is capable of murder, but lots of people think differently, including Genevieve's family who live locally. At this point Douglas ratchets the suspense up.In the acknowledgements Douglas mentions borrowing Gothic themes from classics like Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca and the work of the Bronte sisters. Most of the other elements of The Secrets Between Us are quite common in popular fiction too, but they are put together well here. Not even catching sight of a major part of the ending put me off too much - as with many good crime novels, I enjoyed seeing how the story got there as much as any final revelations.This was my first Louise Douglas book though I have been meaning to read her earlier novels for a while after recommendations from others - I am looking forward to them now.Thank you to Transworld for sending me The Secrets Between Us to review as part of their Challenge.
After the trauma of losing her first baby to stillbirth followed by the discovery that her partner has been having an affair with her best friend and colleague, Sarah goes on holiday to Sicily with her sister and brother in law. There she meets Alexander and his 6 year old son Jamie, and learns that Alexander's wife Genevieve has recently left him. Sarah is immediately smitten with Alexander, and by the end of the holiday she has agreed to go and live with him in a small Somerset village, in the role of housekeeper and nanny to Jamie - much to the concern of her family.When she gets there, Sarah finds all is not quite as she had imagined. The whole village is only too eager to blame Alexander for his wife's disappearance and are judgmental and suspicious about Sarah's arrival on the scene; Genevieve's family are overbearing and openly hostile. Alexander wants her to maintain a front of being just housekeeper and nanny, and Sarah has doubts about whether her really cares for her. As time goes on, Sarah becomes more and more obsessed with Genevieve - what has happened to her? how could she bear to leave her son? does Alexander know more about her disappearance than he is letting on? and why is he so secretive about his past?When the family officially reports Genevieve missing things hot up as the police investigation draws inexorably nearer, and Sarah starts to wonder if she was right to place her trust in Alexander.This book has many strong points. Certainly there is a good story line with enough changes in direction to keep the reader interested, and an interesting range of (mostly) believable characters. The feeling of tension ramps up nicely as the action progresses through the second half of the book.On the down side, the first half of the book seems overly drawn out and slow to progress. The book does seem to hover between love story, ghost story and thriller, and as a result loses focus. In the last 1/4 however, Douglas finally plumps for thriller, and brings it to quite an exciting finish. Definitely worth a read.I have read and reviewed this novel as part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge.
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