It’s at quite an opportune time in Sophie’s life that she gets an invitation from her old friend Caroline urging her to come and stay with her at her family’s beach house. Sophie’s father has just passed away and she’s at a loss as to what to do with her life now. She’s lonely, as well as completely alone, so although she hasn’t seen Caroline for something like 25 years, they’ve always maintained contact (despite the vast difference in their financial status) and she still considers her to be her best friend, so she readily accepts!
When Sophie arrives though, she immediately feels uncomfortable. Something’s just a little ‘off’. When Caroline comes to fetch her from the station, she’s distracted, as if she wasn’t expecting her – but how can that be, when she was the one who’d invited her – rather urgently in fact – in the first place? And she remains that way: abrupt and distant. Sophie wants to ask why she’s behaving like this when she invited her there in the first place. However, always feeling like she’s on the back foot because Caroline’s the wealthier one of the two, she keeps her feelings to herself. The beach house itself, although beautifully luxurious is cold and rather isolated, with chilling views of stark, scary drops off the nearby cliffs. And then there’s Dominic, Caroline’s husband, who’s hardly around, but when he is, seems to harbour an inexplicably intense dislike for Sophie.
But the most disturbing thing about being in Caroline’s home, is her 3-year-old daughter, Lucy. The child doesn’t speak or engage with anyone. At all. Sophie finds this extremely alarming. Whatever she does to bring out the spark that she expects a child that age to have, is met with blank silence. This is coupled with horrific night terrors, and when Sophie discovers that Lucy’s bedroom is in a secluded space right at the top of the house, far away from the other rooms! It seems that nobody hears her screams. She’s devastated for the little girl who is clearly abnormally unhappy.
Wavering between wanting to leave, realising she has nowhere to go, and not wanting to leave Lucy before discovering what’s causing her intense anxiety, Sophie perseveres with what’s becoming an increasingly uncomfortable situation. When she finds herself inadvertently becoming Lucy’s full-time care-giver, she understands that she’s there for the long haul and that she’s going to have to get to the bottom of whatever is going on in Caroline’s house. Because clearly, something is going on!
Secrets, lies, deceit and drama aplenty in this slow-burning 4-star thriller which is told from both Sophie and Caroline’s perspectives. It’s twisty and turny and when you think you know what’s about to happen, I can almost guarantee you’ll be wrong as the author has a knack of leading her readers down one path only to have them reach a sharp about-turn when they think they’ve arrived at a conclusion or solution!
Jill always loved writing – real and imaginary – and spent thirty years travelling the world as a journalist, living overseas and reporting wherever the news took her. She’s now made her home in south-west London with her husband and twin girls who love stories as much as she does. Although she’s covered everything from earthquakes and floods, wars and riots, she’s decided some of the most extraordinary stories are right here at home – in the secrets and lies she imagines behind closed doors on ordinary streets just like yours.
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Thank you so much to Bookouture for once again inviting me to tour with them. Take a look at what other bloggers are saying about The First Wife …