This potentially could have been another run of the mill relationship thriller, except for two things. First, one of the protagonists, the husband, had a condition where he can't differentiate between peoples' faces. A whole book of possibilities there for a start. And second, the technique that throws all perceptions out of the window. Of course, this is one of the features of the book that makes it what it is...
A couple win a holiday in a remote Scottish converted chapel, which they use as a last-chance opportunity to try to save their failing marriage. There is so little trust or affection in this relationship there is the question of why they are even trying to save the marriage when it seems as if neither of them like each other. Displays of deceit and nastiness occur all the time, such as the wife taking the husband's phone out of the car and letting him think he's forgotten it.
The location is set to indicate isolation and gothic style creepiness, with creaking doors, no electricity and eyes at the window. Unfortunately for me, this is my idea of a perfect home. Stained glass windows, high ceilings, creaky doors and stairs, dusty library and basement crypt are some of my favourite things, but I can appreciate how this works to increase tension and atmosphere.
Throughout the novel the story is told from the perspective of the married couple in the first person, a woman who lives by the chapel and a series of letters from the wife at each of the wedding anniversaries. Initially I thought the letter idea was another form of flashback information dump and a little outdated strategy. However, this redeems itself as everything makes sense by the end of the story.
An easy to read book that flows well even if sometimes the imagination is a little too stretched in places. There is a touch of irony and humour, too, and the 'word of the year' parts are an absolute joy. A very enjoyable read.
Also by Alice Feeney - I Know Who You Are.
Published by HQ on 19 August 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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