My goodness Katherine Faulkner. If this is your first novel, I can't wait to see what's in store for us with your next one. Please hurry and give us something soon.
Life seems perfect for our characters, 3 siblings and their partners. Two couples are expecting babies weeks apart and the other couple is wading through the throes of a relationship and coming back together as a couple. Helen, her husband, Daniel, her brother, Rory and his wife, Serena are friends from university days. Their lives are very much entwined both through family and business. Her other brother, Charlie, is not as professionally successful but seems happy but a bit estranged. His girlfriend, Kate, was a childhood friend and is now newspaper reporter. Everyone is happy and then a cat is thrown into the pigeons.
Helen enrolls in an antenatal class with Daniel who seems to have little interest in the upcoming birth or the preparations for it. Helen meets single mother Rachael in this class and thus begins the turmoil. Everywhere Helen goes up pops Rachael. What is this girl up to?
This is a gripping book that reads quickly because with the short chapters you simply can't stop. The story is driven the perspective of one character's viewpoint of events or inner dialogue per chapter. This was a little distracting at first and I had to go back to keep the characters and their relationships straight but soon I was zipping along.
There are twists and turns that you foresee but sometimes these red herrings lead you astray only for you to be proven right but for some other reason. I liked this book and would not hesitate to suggest it to my friends. I am looking forward to reading next book this author has for us.
Initially I thought I didn't want to read about these upper middle-class people with their beautiful homes, too much detail about their clothes, their cooking and shopping and so forth. And I didn't find any of them at all appealing. The initial section was tantalising, however. I think that the scene-setting took too long, but when events started to become more interesting, I felt that the ratcheting up of the tension was done very well. I did guess some of the plot twists before they became clear, but that didn't spoil the following of the plot, and some of the twists and turns were clever.
Having different sections written in the first person by three of the women was a good idea, but I didn't think that the styles were sufficiently differentiated. I kept going back to the initial letter, wondering who had written it. And would a husband, albeit a murderer, adulterer and so forth, really have written such a strange letter to his wife and the mother of his child? And in such a stilted style? I don't think so.
Barbara Blackheath Library reading group
This is a very good debut novel from an author that I hope will go far. The book is gripping from the start. There are secrets aplenty, unexpected surprises and twists in the tale as the story develops. The characters seemed real and were well developed. It really is a very accomplished novel.
This book is a “must read” for fans of three authors I’ve never heard of, according to the proof copy I received, so I didn’t know what to expect from this debut novel by Katherine Faulkner. What I got was a slow-burner of a psychological thriller, centred on Helen Thorpe and her family, who live in the Greenwich Park area of London in a house that her architect husband, Daniel is renovating at what seems to be the worse time for Helen as she struggles with her pregnancy and for Daniel as he deals with a difficult and unpopular building project.
Helen and her sister-in-law are both expecting babies and whilst attending an ante-natal class in the upper room of a pub, which her husband, sister and brother have all ducked out of, Helen meets Rachel, who is also attending the class on her own.
From then on, we are asked to work out just what Rachel is really up to as she keeps “accidentally” bumping into Helen, whilst breaking all the rules of what pregnant women should and shouldn’t do and apparently second-guessing what Helen has done and is about to do. When she turns up on Helen’s doorstep having been physically abused and asks to stay a night or two, things get worse for Helen and the tension between Helen and her husband racks up even higher.
From the reader’s point of view, with other clues we are given as we go along, we can guess who Rachel is and her connection with Helen. My problem with this book was that I felt that Faulkner was trying to get me to empathise with Helen as she struggled to understand what Rachel was up to, but unfortunately, I didn’t like Helen much nor her other family members. The one character I liked was Katie, a journalist and sometime girlfriend to Helen’s younger brother, who begins to look a bit deeper into what may be going on and her investigation brought some much-needed pace to the story.
This book takes a long time to get going. It is only when a family fireworks party takes place, unreliably narrated by Helen and Katie, that I felt the story got going and that is at around page 200, halfway through the book.
Having said all this, the end of the book does have a satisfactory pay-off as all the events and clues are put together and the family secrets are revealed. I just felt that the novel could have been 100 pages shorter and much quicker in its telling.
Well done Katherine! A good first novel. The plot was slow to unravel but the tension built and all was revealed in the end. Would recommend to my friends
I read this book through my Book Club, and was a bit daunted when I saw the number of pages!
However, this book hooks you in from the beginning and you can’t put it down. It has a gripping plot, with unpredictable twists and turns. Each chapter is told by one of the characters from their viewpoint. The main character, Helen, is likeable, but a bit naïve, and the other characters are interesting and well portrayed.
Well worth reading.
Really enjoyed this thriller and devoured it in about a day. Faulkner certainly knows how to keep up the pacing, and her writing is perfect for this genre: succinct and clear, pushing the story forward but never getting in the way by being awkward or too lyrical. There was lots of mystery throughout and plenty of misdirection, with surprises all the way up to the last page.
I'd definitely recommend this book to fans of domestic thrillers and I found it a very enjoyable holiday read. That said, there are a few elements that stopped it from being five stars:
- The book is multiple POV, which I enjoy, but the voices of the different women weren't distinct enough to clearly identify them. When reading Serena's chapters, particularly, I often thought I was still in Helen's POV, so it got quite confusing.
- The main character doesn't actually do all that much. This seems quite typical for thrillers, where the unravelling of the mystery is the main point of the story, but it frustrates me somewhat when the main character's function in the story is essentially to discover what has happened, rather than actually doing things themselves.
- The story is pitched as being about the complexity of female friendships, particularly during the loneliness of pregnancy, but I really didn't get much of that from the book. Rachel was clearly a nutcase from the beginning, so I didn't understand why Helen didn't get rid of her earlier. I never really believed that they were actually friends, in any sense of the word.
Overall, I really enjoyed this thriller about relationships and pregnancy, with more than a little drama and past misdeeds coming back to haunt everyone... It wasn't quite a five-star read for me, but I'd very much recommend to fans of domestic thrillers.
Goodreads review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4003099464?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
Helen, Rory and Charlie are siblings. Daniel, Serena and Katie are their respective partners. Daniel works for Rory in the family’s architect business. Helen and Serena are both pregnant, due at about the same time. Enter Rachel. Rachel meets Helen at her ante-natal class and from that moment on, starts to pop up everywhere. Having given up work early for maternity leave, Helen is at a bit of a loose end and is a little lonely so she is initially grateful for Rachel’s attentiveness. But when Rachel starts to become clingy, Helen finds it impossible to extricate herself from a relationship which she never really instigated in the first place. And then things take a more sinister turn. The story is narrated alternately by the three women from the extended family – Helen, Serena and Katie.
I loved this book and was completely hooked from the start. It is fast-paced and so full of suspense that I occasionally had to cheat and flick forward a few pages to find out what was going to happen, just to ease the tension. Many of the chapters end on quite dramatic cliff-hangers. There are numerous twists, turns and red herrings, especially as the solution unfolds. There are really only seven characters in the book and they are all well developed, especially the women who we get to know quite well as they tell us their stories.
I do have a couple of small criticisms, but nothing which is going to detract from the very well-deserved 5-star rating. Firstly, one of my pet hates is a prologue, especially if it appears to give away the ending. This book had a prologue and it did mar my reading of the book to some extent as I had an inkling of what was going to happen eventually – I just didn’t know which character it was going to happen to. I really don’t understand why authors feel the need to use this gadget as I have never yet known a prologue contribute significantly to my reading of the book, and it so often has a detrimental effect. The other very minor problem was that the women’s narratives are each a continuous story in themselves, but chapters alternate between the three women. This means that from the reader’s point of view there is often quite a large gap before a particular narrator’s story resumes and I found that I sometimes had to check back for the sake of continuity.
This is a debut novel from this author and I will definitely be looking out for her next book. Well done Katherine.
I was lucky enough that the reading group I’m in was chosen to get copies of this and I absolutely loved it. It was a novel with twists that kept me guessing-every time I thought I knew where it was going to go, it didn’t so the tension was high throughout. Although it’s a cliche, I did find this a page turner and will be passing my copy on to my dad who loves similarly plotted books.
I really enjoyed how I was never sure which characters I could completely trust within the novel. Everyone seemed to have a secret or seem a tad dodgy which also kept me guessing. The reveals are well paced and the story unfolds really well. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a book with secrets, lies, jealousy and I think it will make a perfect summer read!
Greenwich Park had me hooked right from the first page. Because each chapter is short, I just kept thinking ‘just one more’.......before I knew I had finished the book. The book has a clever plot and intriguing characters and I thought the ending was brilliant. This has been the best book that I have read this year and I will be recommending it to everyone.