Talking About ‘The Party’ with Bibliobeth!

The Party

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.

But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.

At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests–the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich–Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

CHRISSI: I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but what were your initial impressions of this book from its cover?

BETH: I have a confession to make. I do that judgey thing and judge a book by its cover. I have been proved wrong in the past – for example, I really didn’t like the cover of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and as you know Chrissi, I adore that book. What can I say? I think a cover really sells a book and if you can market it “prettily,” you’re onto a winner (with me at least!) I have to admit for this cover? I just found it a little bit dull and unfortunately, it didn’t inspire me to read the book at all. In fact, if I saw it in a bookshop I wouldn’t pick it up on the basis of this cover alone. Luckily what was inside proved to be much more fascinating in the outside so time and time again, I must not judge!!

BETH: What did you make of Martin’s relationship with his wife, Lucy?

CHRISSI: Oh good question! I felt a bit sorry for Lucy actually. I feel like she always came second for him. He was far more concerned with his friendship with Ben than his relationship with his wife. She must have seen his neediness for his friend and wondered why that wasn’t there in their relationship. I felt like she was so loyal to him despite him constantly pushing her boundaries.

CHRISSI: How can we tell Martin is an unreliable narrator?

BETH: From the very beginning. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that when we first meet Martin, he is being questioned in a police station. That isn’t to say he’s done anything wrong, there was an “incident” at a party and he is being asked what he knows. We soon find out what’s gone on in due course. As a reader, it does make you think what could have happened though, especially with the evasive way he is answering some of the questions…..
Then we get more information about his childhood and his relationship with the host of the party and the way he talks to and reacts to certain people makes him all the more intriguing.

BETH: Can money buy you happiness? Does being part of a wealthy elite change the way the Fitzmaurices behave to others not in their circle?

CHRISSI: I don’t think money can buy you happiness. I think it can help your life and help to reach the goals you may have for yourself. I definitely felt like the Fitzmaurices behaved in an incredibly entitled manner. They were obsessed with the power money held over others. Martin certainly enjoyed the high life when he was with Ben. I don’t think they were very kind to others in a lower class than themselves.

CHRISSI: To what extent did the narrative structure (where the bulk of the plot takes place over the course of one evening with flashbacks to the past) heighten the tension?

BETH: I love narratives like this. We hear about the present time, where as I mention, Martin is being questioned about what happened on that night, then it flits back and forward from the present day, to episodes where Martin is at school and as a young adult. As a reader, I wanted to get back to the questioning parts to try and get a clue about what exactly had happened but at the same time I wanted to get back to Martin’s past too as there’s definite clues there about his relationships and the reasons why they end up the way that they do.

BETH: Did you anticipate where this story would lead? Were you surprised by the outcome?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t really sure where this book was going to go. I did love the element of mystery. I also loved how I thought I was steps ahead and knew what was going on, but I wasn’t always right. For me, the ending was a little abrupt and it left me wondering what was going on or going to happen.

CHRISSI: Does this book fit into a genre?

BETH: This is such a hard question! On Goodreads it’s defined into quite a few categories – mystery, thriller and contemporary to name a few but I think it falls quite nicely into literary fiction too. It certainly has aspects of all of these genres, the intrigue where we don’t know what’s going on, a modern setting and a thrilling plot where we’re never quite sure of our characters’ motives.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I did enjoy reading it, even if it felt a little slow in places for me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

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Talking About ‘Persons Unknown’ with Bibliobeth!

Persons Unknown (DS Manon, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

CHRISSI: We read Missing, Presumed, the first book to feature Manon. Do you think you needed to, in order to read and enjoy Persons Unknown? Why/why not?

BETH: Hmmm, interesting question. Normally I’m a stickler for reading series in order but I know other people aren’t that precious, especially if the book in question can easily be read as a stand-alone. I think Persons Unknown is definitely one of these books and I don’t think you need to read the first novel in the series necessarily as they are both completely different cases that Manon is involved with. However, if you’re anything like me, you like the background of the character and how they’ve got to this point in their lives. Also, I do think that Manon’s experiences with her adopted son Fly will be better understood if you read Missing, Presumed.

BETH: How did you find the relationship between Manon and her adopted son, Fly? Do you think this is threatened at all by her pregnancy?

CHRISSI: I think Manon and Fly’s relationship was difficult. He had come from a troubled, prejudiced background and needed time to adapt to his new surroundings and family environment. I felt that Fly did feel threatened by her pregnancy. Fly had come from a difficult background and probably felt like his adoptive’s mum pregnancy would affect his relationship with her. After all, the unborn baby was biologically hers. No matter how much she adored Fly, which I truly think she did, it has to have an affect on him.

CHRISSI: There are links to corruption in high finance and the exploitation of young women. Does the way Susie Steiner addresses these very contemporary concerns shed new light on them for you?

BETH: I have to admit, I don’t have too much knowledge on these subjects in general except what I see in the news. So, it was refreshing to get this perspective in a novel, especially with all the Cambridge Analytica horrors that have been exposed in the media recently. I did feel after reading it that I had a better understanding of corruption and the forms it can take and obviously, felt complete abhorrence at what happens to the young women that are exploited in this story.

BETH: Manon moved Fly from London to Cambridgeshire in order to keep him safe from prejudice and violence. Was she right to do this?

CHRISSI: I think Manon’s intentions were honourable. She didn’t want Fly to suffer from prejudice and be around violence. Part of me thinks that she should have stayed in London to teach Fly how to deal with such things. Prejudice and violence can be seen anywhere in the country, let alone anywhere in the world. I’m not so sure she wasn’t teaching him to run away from his problems.

CHRISSI: Does this book stand out in its genre?

BETH: For me, it does. There’s something quite refreshing and unique about Susie Steiner’s writing and characterisation that always makes her novels interesting to read. I love the slow pace of the plot, the development of Manon and the gradual reveal of secrets where you can never quite predict what’s going to happen.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think I would. She’s not one of my favourite writers, but I think her books are interesting and I’m certainly not turned off by her books or her writing. Actually, it’s credit to her that I do enjoy her books. I’m not a fan of crime-led fiction!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Talking About ‘The Wildflowers’ with Bibliobeth!

The Wildflowers

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

CHRISSI: What were your initial impressions when you looked at the cover of this book?

BETH: I thought it was pretty, I liked the night sky and the hint of wild flowers (which are mentioned quite a lot in the novel as well as being the surname of the family). However, I don’t think it gave you much idea of what the story within contained. Sometimes this can be a good thing and you are pleasantly surprised by what you find but generally speaking, I like my covers to have a tiny hint of connection with the narrative.

BETH: This novel is told from multiple perspectives. How did you find this worked for the story?

CHRISSI: I have to admit that I often struggle with multiple perspectives. It can be really hard for a writer to engage every reader with every perspective. I did find it hard to enjoy one particular perspective. I do think this somewhat hampered my enjoyment of the book, because I found myself skimming the parts of the perspective that I didn’t enjoy that much. That’s not a reflection on the author’s writing, it’s just that one perspective didn’t work for me… tricky! However, I do think it worked to have multiple perspectives for this story to really delve into the plot.

BETH: What did you make of Madeline’s relationship with the Wilde children, Ben and Cordelia?

CHRISSI: Ooh, I thought Madeline’s relationship with them was fascinating. Madeline made such an impact in their lives right from the get go. I thought her relationship was particularly obsessive, bordering on stalker-like. It was interesting to read her diary entries to see just how much she picked up on about Ben and Cordelia. It did leave me feeling a little uneasy though. I feel like we really got to know who Madeline really was through her diary entries.

CHRISSI: To be born with exceptional talent can be a blessing and a curse. How are the characters in The Wildflowers affected and afflicted by theirs?

BETH: Good question. The Wildes are an infamous family in the small town on the Dorset coast where they have a country home. Both Tony and Althea, the mother and father in the equation are both actors. Tony, at first is the most popular and incredibly sought after for work in London but Althea comes into her own during the story. The daughter, Cordelia is at times, transfixed by her parents success and in the end, she becomes a famous singer and the brother, Ben a respected director. For all parties concerned, their fame and fortune has a detrimental effect on family life, their health, their relationships with each other and with people outside the family circle and leads to multiple secrets and betrayals.

BETH: There are unlikeable characters in this novel. How did you enjoy reading about them?

CHRISSI: Some unlikeable characters are awesome to read about. I love it when I hate an unlikeable character. It means the author has really got under my skin and I think that’s quite a talent. I wasn’t a fan of Ben and Cordelia’s parents. I thought they were incredibly self-obsessed. This is one of those stories though, that as it progresses, you begin to somewhat understand why the characters have behaved in the way that they did. Madeline, however obsessed she was, fascinated me!

CHRISSI: If Aunt Dinah’s letter had been found when it was written, how would it have impacted Tony’s life? Which events might have played out differently? And why?

BETH: It would have completely turned Tony’s life upside down – in a good way. Unfortunately it is not found until a long time later when Tony is unable to do anything about what Aunt Dinah says in the letter. By then, he has made countless mistakes, wrecked his close relationships which has led to certain members of the family becoming estranged. He would have been comforted by what he found in the letter I think and his whole life, including his relationship with his wife would have been very, very different.

CHRISSI: Did this book surprise you in any way?

BETH:  A little bit, yes. I anticipated some big twists and turns and there were certainly plenty of those. Unfortunately, I did have a little inkling of what was to come so I wasn’t completely surprised with one of the big reveals. My biggest surprise was probably an incident with Tony as a young man and his Aunt Dinah’s friend Daphne. I couldn’t quite work out why this event was in the novel and I wondered if it was entirely necessary?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I have read a few books by Harriet Evans before and I would do again in the future. I used to be quite the fan but my reading tastes have changed over time. It was nice to go back to her writing after quite a break from it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH:  Yes! 3.5 stars

CHRISSI: Yes!

Talking About ‘Close To Home’ with Bibliobeth!

Close to Home (DI Adam Fawley, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, CLOSE TO HOME is a pulse-pounding race against time and a penetrating examination of what happens to a community when a shocking crime is committed by one of its own.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before you started it?

BETH: I really try not to have preconceptions about any book before I read it but I think it’s human nature, you do make a snap judgement depending on how the book looks and what you’ve heard about it. Luckily, I had heard only good things and if anything, the preconceptions were basically high expectations based on the number of positive reviews I’ve read and the fact it was picked for the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list this year. Always a good sign! However, we do know there have been books that have been chosen that we haven’t particularly loved – would this be one of them? No chance. I adored this book and believe it’s the start of a hugely promising crime series that I’m now desperate to follow.

BETH: Our lead detective, DI Adam Fawley is reported in this novel as also experiencing tragedy in his life. Were you as eager as me to know his back story?

CHRISSI: So very desperate. I loved how it was teased throughout. That sounds like I mean that I was happy he experienced tragedy, not at all, I just loved the way the details were drip fed to us. Anticipation. I really wanted to know what had happened to DI Adam Fawley. I was intrigued throughout and wanted to know what had happened to him. I grew to love him as a character and felt like I could feel his pain through the pages of the book. He’s not real, Chrissi, he’s not real!

CHRISSI: What does this novel say about children and the world they’re growing up in now?

BETH: Interesting and very tough question! And I’m going to try and do this without spoilers….One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was the use of different media to tell the story. For example, we have Twitter feeds, news articles, interview transcripts etc. and not only did this give an alternative look at the story from a number of points of view, it broke up the narrative in a really fun-to-read way. However, I think it illustrated perfectly how powerful and dangerous social media can be in distorting views, inciting hatred, giving false information and potentially endangering lives. We already know from the very start of the novel that Daisy has disappeared with someone “close to home,” and it makes you wonder if you can really trust anyone – a terrifying thought.

BETH: Who do you think is a better parent to Daisy, Barry or Sharon?

CHRISSI: Well this is an evil question, Beth! They both have their flaws. Definitely. I have to say that I doubted them all the way through at different points in the story. Cara Hunter is awesome at keeping you guessing, I have to say. If I had to choose it would be Barry. I think. Argh! I don’t know. I don’t like this question, Beth. I don’t know if I’m picking Barry because I intensely disliked Sharon!

CHRISSI: Cara Hunter sets her novel in Oxford, a place that’s been portrayed many times in crime fiction. What do you think of her version of the city?

BETH: I’ve visited Oxford a couple of times now (once with you fairly recently!) and I loved Cara’s version of this beloved and well-known city. I enjoyed that we got to hear about a few staples of the city, like the spires but it generally felt much more focused on an ordinary street with very ordinary people living there but where an extraordinary and very traumatic thing has occurred. I liked how the author focused on the community around the Mason family, what they saw, how they connected with the Masons and how they reacted to the event.

BETH: Without spoilers, did you see this ending coming and what did you think of it?

CHRISSI: That ending! Oh my goodness. I don’t want to spoil it at all, so I’m going to be very careful around discussing it. It deserves to be read without knowing what’s going to happen. If you manage to get it without spoilers (like I did!) then your mouth might drop open…a bit like mine did. I definitely didn’t see it coming. As I mentioned before, Cara Hunter totally kept me guessing. The ending that happened never, ever crossed my mind. Mind blown.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in the (heavily) populated genre?

BETH: It’s up there with the best in my opinion. As I mentioned, I loved the way in which Cara Hunter styled this novel and used a vast array of other media to tell this tale. It felt unique, different and was a clever little break from a cliffhanger in the narrative that just made you want to read as fast as you could to get back to the main crux of the novel and find out what happened next! These parts were ever so important however as they brought vital information into the case of Daisy Mason that you wouldn’t want to miss by glossing over these sections. There was not only a stellar plot (and THAT ending) but I absolutely adored all the characters, even those you love to hate. They were frank, authentic, fully formed and I felt just as interested in them as I did in what happened to Daisy. Can’t say enough good things, it was brilliant.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, yes I would. I have automatically downloaded the next book in the series on NetGalley, which I’m super excited about. I tend to find crime fiction a bit overpopulated and a little bit samey, but I’m happy to say that I found Cara Hunter’s book to be incredibly unique and well worth reading. It kept me captivated throughout. I’m excited to see where this series goes.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

Talking About ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ with Bibliobeth

The Heart's Invisible Furies

How did I get it?:
It was a present!

Synopsis:

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

CHRISSI: This book has been very hyped by others in the blogosphere. Did the hype worry you? We all know about that dreaded hype monster…

BETH: I think we all worry about that horrible hype monster. There’s been so often where I’ve heard nothing but good things about a book and for some reason, I just haven’t connected with it as much as other readers. But for some strange reason, I didn’t have that worry with this book. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve read a few of John Boyne’s books now so I’m already familiar with his style of writing (and I was pretty certain I was going to love it!) or if I’ve read enough reviews of it now that I knew I’d be into it purely on the plot alone. This was definitely the case with me, I knew I was going to love it, what WAS unexpected was just how much I would adore it.

BETH: What did you make of the relationship between Cyril and his adoptive parents, Charles and Maude?

CHRISSI: SO VERY STRANGE. I really felt for Cyril. I felt like Cyril’s adoptive parents merely adopted him just because it was ‘right’ thing to do, to have a child. I don’t feel like there was much love there which was a great shame. Charles and his constant need to remind Cyril that he wasn’t a real Avery. Ooh his Dad really made me cross. Ha! I find it funny that I’m still so annoyed about Cyril’s parents!

CHRISSI: Following Cyril through the course of his life takes us through much of the twentieth century. How was each decade most vividly brought to life for you?

BETH: Great question. We see Cyril from a very young boy, right through school and teenage years to a young adult, middle aged man and then an old man. Different things happen to him in each decade that affect his life irrevocably and it seems each decade also comes with a different challenge for poor Cyril. I think his life was brought into vivid detail by these experiences that he goes through and also the host of colourful characters that he meets along the way that all touch his life in some way, either for better or for worst.

BETH: How well do you think this novel explored what it’s like to be gay in Ireland from the fifties onwards?

CHRISSI: I found this novel to be incredibly intriguing as to what it was like to be gay in Ireland from the 50s. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind about what Ireland experienced, but I don’t think I’ve ever read something so memorable about Ireland’s history with homosexuality. I think the novel explored it well and in a way that was heart-breaking but incredibly memorable at the same time.

CHRISSI: Discuss the ending, how else might you have concluded Cyril’s story?

BETH: The ending was quite bitter-sweet for me but I’ll try not to give away any spoilers. I’m really happy we got to see Cyril as a seventy year old man coming near the end of his life. However, this was also really sad (and sounds a bit silly) but even though I’m aware he’s fictional, I just wish he hadn’t aged so quickly! By the end of the novel, he seems to have achieved some sort of closure about the events that have happened to him over the years and has made peace with those he needed to which was lovely to read. Some of the parts really broke my heart though, especially when you find out his future and when he’s talking to his nearest and dearest that he hasn’t seen for years.

BETH: There is a large cast of very different characters in this novel. Which character did you most warm to and why?

CHRISSI: There really is a large cast of characters. However, only one stole my heart and that was Cyril. I absolutely loved following his story across his life. I loved seeing him grow over time from teen, to young adult, adult to the elderly Cyril. I loved being along for the ride. I grew so close to Cyril and was desperate for everything to turn out right for him.

CHRISSI: How do you think this book compares to John Boyne’s other books that you’ve read?

BETH: I’ve read probably his most famous – The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Mutiny On The Bounty and Stay Where You Are And Then Leave. Although I rated the latter of these five stars on Goodreads, I would have to say without a doubt, The Heart’s Invisible Furies is my favourite book by John Boyne so far. It has the most beautiful writing, the most fantastic characters and was a novel that had me laughing and crying in equal measure. It’s easily made it’s way to my favourites shelf and is probably one of my all-time favourite books that I’ll be talking about and pushing into other people’s hands for a long time yet.

BETH: The Heart’s Invisible Furies is both funny and sad. Why do you think the author chose to use humour in the telling of this story?

CHRISSI: I think it’s really important that stories have a balance of funny and sad. Despite bad things happening, life does have its funny moments. I think if stories always dwell on the sad then it can be very tough to read. I like it when there are lighter moments in this story. I think the author included some lighter moments because some particular moments were difficult to read.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Talking About ‘The Marriage Pact’ with Bibliobeth!

The Marriage Pact: For fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before starting it?

BETH: A few, yes I did indeed. First of all, it’s on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list for 2018 and I normally trust the novels they pick as being compelling reads so I was looking forward to it on that count. Secondly, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel from bloggers I admire and whose opinions I trust. As a result, I went into it with slightly raised expectations, expecting a fantastic, memorable read. Now I have such mixed feelings I don’t know where to start!

BETH: Did you believe in Jake and Alice’s relationship? Do you think their marriage will last beyond the novel?

CHRISSI: I did actually. You could tell as a reader that they really did love each other. There were moments when I felt like Jake felt more deeply for Alice than vice versa, but in the main part I did believe in them. Alice did have moments of vulnerability which made me realise how she felt. I thought they both wanted the best out of their marriage. Whether joining The Pact was a way to go about it, I don’t know. As for whether it would last beyond the novel? I’m not sure. They went through so much together and perhaps they’d take the best bits out of The Pact to improve on in the future?

CHRISSI: What do you think motivates people to join cults such as The Pact? What motivates Jake and Alice in particular?

BETH: I have no idea! Personally, I would never be tempted to join a group like this especially when we find out further along the novel what they are really like. Jake and Alice however, although they clearly love each other dearly are motivated to join The Pact as it is advertised to them as simply a way of making sure they have a happy marriage and are unlikely to ever get divorced. They are sold completely on this idea and perhaps Alice feels a bit vulnerable, really wanting her marriage to work. Of course, it all seems completely above board and just a lovely thing to be a participant of, as well as making new friends so they don’t hesitate in signing up.

BETH: What were the best/worst parts of this novel for you?

CHRISSI: Ooh what a tricky question. As I mentioned to you when we were reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to rate it. That’s mainly because some of it I thought was bloody brilliant and other parts made my skin crawl. What I liked about this book was that it certainly kept me turning the pages. I’m not so sure it was always in the right way that I wanted to continue. Mainly I was like ‘WTF am I reading?’ but perhaps that was the author’s intention? It certainly got me thinking and reading. I didn’t want to put it down. The worst parts were when really disgusting things happened to a person and Jake enjoyed (?) it!

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too much?

BETH: And so it begins…In a word, yes. At times, I really felt like I had to suspend my disbelief in what was going on to Jake and Alice and this normally wouldn’t bother me in a novel. I love a bit of fantasy, a bit of uncertainty and a thrilling plot that just takes you along for the ride and in some ways, this is exactly what I got. However, at some points I’m afraid to say my eyebrows remained perfectly raised and I just thought erm….really?! I think there’s only so far you can go with pushing the boundaries of what people will believe and if you step over that line, there is a real chance you’re going to lose that reader. Unfortunately by the last third of the book, this was definitely the case with me. Then there were those scenes…… where Alice is chained and being taken away and Jake gets turned on. Then another woman is naked in a jail cell and looks a bit unkempt and has obviously been treated violently, AND HE GETS TURNED ON. I mean, really? Did she have to go all Fifty Shades on us? Quite unnecessary and frankly, a bit warped and creepy. It is a shame because I did really enjoy parts of this novel, it was just these other parts that foxed me a little bit and lowered an otherwise “brilliant” rating.

BETH: Did you find this book thrilling or suspenseful at all?

CHRISSI: For me, thrilling? No. I didn’t think it was a particularly thrilling read because as I mentioned, some parts really didn’t work for me and made me feel uncomfortable in a way that made me want to stop reading. Suspenseful? Totally. I was intrigued and wanted to know what was going to happen next. I really was captivated…just not always in a positive way.

CHRISSI: Are there any rules of The Pact that you think could strengthen a marriage? Are the principles behind the extreme methods sound, or not?

BETH: Apologies for the above rant. I had a few issues! Yes, I think some of the rules were quite good for strengthening a marriage. Things like making sure you go on holiday with each other often to get away from it all. buying a gift no matter how silly every month I think is nice and obviously, prioritising each others feelings and wants and not letting work get in the way to much. However, the extreme methods that The Pact goes to when enforcing these principles are in no way sound and are very frightening. I couldn’t believe that Jake and Alice put up with what they did for so long!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Tricky one. I really think it depends on the subject matter. She can clearly write but I’m not sure the content is my sort of thing!

Would we recommend it?

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: A tentative yes!

Talking About ‘The Child’ With Bibliobeth

The Child: The Must-Read Richard and Judy Book Club Pick 2018

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Widow

Synopsis:

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

CHRISSI: How do you feel this book compares to Fiona’s debut, The Widow?

BETH: I really enjoyed The Widow when we “talked about” it in 2016 and gave it four stars so I was expecting to enjoy The Child too, however I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much more! It was truly gripping, I loved the style of writing, narrative set-up, the whole mystery behind who “the child” was and of course, THAT surprise.

BETH: Emma says, “People say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….But it doesn’t. It breaks your bones, leaving everything splintered and held together with grubby bandages and yellowing sticky tape…Sometimes you wish it had killed you.” Do you agree with this? Without spoilers, how does this relate to Emma?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I’ve always wondered about that saying. It’s nice to find comfort in it and know that experiencing something and living through it does improve your character. However, sometimes simply terrible things happen to people and I’m not sure how that saying is comforting. It’s hard to discuss it in relation to Emma without spoiling the story. Let’s just say, Emma’s character is incredibly fragile. In regards to that saying, Emma’s not a strong person because of what has happened to her. She may be strong deep down to be living through it but on the outside, she’s totally broken.

CHRISSI: How does Fiona Barton present mothers and motherhood in The Child? How does each character’s experience of motherhood change them?

BETH: We hear from a number of very different mothers in The Child. We have mother’s who lost their children in very tragic and horrific circumstances and then there is Emma’s mother Jude, who is trying her best to be a good mother to Emma but I’m afraid she kind of fails miserably. As a result, Emma has a very fractured and fragile relationship with her and the two often come to arguments. As a result, Emma is a wary, anxious person whilst Jude can never seem to do or say the right thing and makes some VERY awful decisions as a mother. With Angela, the loss of her child has irrevocably changed her as a person, even though she has two other children as she craves the answers she has never had.

BETH: The Child is told through different points of view. How did this structure affect your reading experience?

CHRISSI: Different points of view don’t always work for me in a story because I often find myself enjoying one over the other. However, this wasn’t the case with The Child. I thought Fiona Barton portrayed the different voices fabulously. Using different points of view definitely kept me turning the pages as I wanted to see how the different characters were dealing with what was going on!

CHRISSI: In The Child, Harry comments: ‘What gives them the right to meddle in people’s lives like this? How is this news? This is a personal tragedy, not some story for everyone to gawp at.’ What do you think makes a story newsworthy? Are reporters like Kate right to investigate these kinds of ‘human interest’ stories?

BETH: I’m afraid to say in my opinion Harry is right. Although I really loved Kate as a character, her job as a journalist, especially with this very emotive case, sometimes made my stomach churn as she chased down the perfect story. I understand that she was just doing her job and she was very good at it and obviously sympathetic to the women she talked to but I can also understand from the women’s point of view where it is not just a “story,” it is their life. Sorry, got a bit deep there!

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel? Give reasons for your choice.

CHRISSI: I liked quite a few characters in this novel. I think if I had to pick, I would probably say Angela. I deeply felt for her and her family after what they went through. I desperately wanted Angela to find closure. Her story touched my heart!

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in anyway?

BETH: I have to admit, I thought it was going to be. I’m not sure how you felt but I was completely wrong and did not expect what is revealed to us as the reader very slowly and methodically. It’s one of those books where I was glad I wasn’t reading the end in public because I kind of gasped out loud. If a book can make me do that, I’m going to sing its praises to the heavens.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I definitely would. I really enjoy Fiona Barton’s writing style. Whilst I did prefer The Widow, I thought this was a fabulous book and anything that she writes in the future I would gladly pick up! 🙂

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars!