Thursday 18 June 2015

The Other Child - Lucy Atkins


Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth ... but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?.
When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.
Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house. Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery...
What did I think?
This was really creepy at times, when Tess feels like somebody is watching her, the phone rings and nobody is there and things get moved in the house.  My heart was pounding on several occasions and I felt that something terrible was going to happen, and felt relieved rather than disappointed that there was no knife wielding killer in the kitchen.

I felt sorry for Tess, pregnant and often alone in a strange country with less than friendly neighbours.  Her next door neighbour, Helena, was portrayed as a nasty piece of work and I could almost hear the witch theme from the Wizard of Oz in my head every time she appeared.

The passages relating to Tess's pregnancy were clearly from the author's own experiences and were written quite beautifully.  I really felt the miracle of life growing with each little somersault and hiccup!

So this wasn't a blood thirsty thriller but it was actually quite clever in the fact that it made me examine my own misconceptions of people.  I admit I jumped on the bandwagon of Greg having something to hide and whatever it was, he was guilty.  Perhaps he was wrongly accused, and he's just trying to live a normal life without the past haunting him.  I felt quite guilty when Tess drove to the cabin and it was almost a picture of perfect family life - Greg was reading with Joe tucked up in bed upstairs - what was I expecting? Joe to be thrown off a ski-lift?  Yes, probably but this reads more like an observation of real life - Greg has perhaps tried to escape a misunderstanding in his past, but when it catches up with him it's too late to untangle the lies.

A creepy page turner that will have you questioning who is telling the truth.

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