An absolutely brilliant, unputdownable, cracker of a read! I hate comparing books, but for me, this was slightly reminiscent of The Woman in the Window. It had the same sense of a woman being trapped both within herself and her home, by her life and circumstances and unable to move forward.
Esther has suffered a terrible tragedy and when we first meet her, we are inclined to think she’s elderly. However, it turns out she’s only in her late 40’s – although she does feel like she’s much older. A car accident has claimed the lives of her beloved husband and children and all she has left is a sister who she has come to despise as she blames her for the loss of her family.
She sits at her window watching the world go by and becomes fixated with the family across the street from her – at Number 19 – a harridan of a wife and mother whose behaviour becomes more erratic by the day, as Esther watches her berate and humiliate her husband and 2 children. What can she do about it? She doesn’t want to sit by while something happens to these poor defenseless kids. So she decides that she’ll keep watch and maintain a diary of events as she witnesses them.
With regular visits from the kindly Amy from down the street, Esther finds some sort of routine, keeping watch and attempting to carry on with her life. But then suspicious things start happening in her own home, which makes her suspect that someone might be watching her – as she watches the house across the street. Slowly, her equilibrium starts to unravel and paranoia sets in. She soon can’t make head or tail of what’s happening to her – how are things supposed to be? Something is clearly not quite right in her head and her home.
This is an absolutely thrilling read that had me holding my breath at some points, without even realising it! J.A. Baker has constructed a novel that in parts is quite frighteningly believable as she delves into what it might be like to live inside a confused, muddled psyche. The reader is plunged into Esther’s bewildered mind as she attempts to separate fact from fiction and truth from lies. It is both scary and sad.
A 5-star read that I highly recommend!
J.A. Baker was born and brought up in North East England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember. She has an interest in local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but especially enjoys psychological thrillers.
J.A. Baker has four grown-up children and a grandchild and lives in a village near Darlington with her husband and madcap dog.
Her first book, Undercurrent was published by Bloodhound Books in March 2017 and went straight into the Top 100. Since then she has had five other books released, three of which also made it into the Amazon Top 100 rankings.
The Woman at Number 19 is her 7th novel.
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