Back of the book :
1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.
A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?
What I Think :
When Julianne’s son comes into the kitchen one night just before Christmas and tells her he needs to show her something, she isn’t all that worried. However, when she gets upstairs she’s not quite sure what to make of what her son Stephen is showing her about her husband James. But one thing is for certain, is that the discovery is about to turn her world upside down ….
Back in 1990, Holly has worked hard to get her place as a fresher at Oxford Uni as her family are working class. She falls into friendship group with some older kids. There she starts falling for a certain someone. But it’s not long before she realises that things in the friendship group are not what they appear…
I have to say that this is a book that I probably wouldn’t have finished if it hadn’t been a review book. None of the characters were really my kind of people and the subject matters that were covered in it such as, racism, violence and sexual violence/ rape weren’t really the things that I would read about normally. But each to their own and if you like this sort of book then this is probably the one for you.
Told over two time-lines of now (Julianne) with her posh life in London, Knightsbridge, no less. And 1990 (Holly) with her trying to fit into Uni. They were, it turns out, both at Oxford Uni and vaguely knew each other although not that well, they both share this huge secret that neither wants anyone to find out.
So I won’t say much more as I don’t want to give away the plot. Although having said it’s not my kind of thing, it’s a very well-written book and I would read any others the author writes.
I give this a 8/10.
Published on 07/02/19 by Avon Books.
A big Thank you to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.
Here for your reading pleasure is an extract from the book :
Oh, sorry, honey. I thought you were Dad. You can have some wine, too. One glass.’ I wink at him and smile. I’m well aware his classmates are probably knocking back beer, wine, vodka and God knows what else every night in the run-up to Christmas. Not my Stephen, though. He’s not one of those seventeen-year-olds.
‘I’m cool with a Coke.’ He walks to the fridge and gets himself a can. He pours it in silence and then turns back to face me.
‘Mum,’ he says again, then hesitates.
I keep my smile going, but feel a slight coldness in my stomach. That simple word can be said in a whole galaxy of different ways. With love when they say goodnight, with anger when you tell them they have to do their homework, with annoyance when you probe too far into their personal lives or ask about who they’re dating. And then there are the times when they say ‘Mum’ in a way that makes your blood freeze in your veins. It’s immediately clear: something is very wrong. My mind starts to run wild, offering me a slide show of different horror stories, each more dismaying than the last. Maybe he wants to drop out of doing his exams? Is he being bullied? Has he got himself mixed up in something awful or criminal?
‘Stephen, honey, what is it?’ I say. I want to go to him and hug him but have learnt from experience it’s best not to crowd a teenager when they are about to tell you a piece of information that’s clearly causing them concern. In their overtaxed brains, flight is often an attractive solution to dealing with a problem. It’s best to stand well clear until the danger of this has passed.
Stephen moves his head, looking at the floor, as if he’s trying to gather his words but failing to get them in order. I try to be patient but fail. ‘Is it to do with your exams after Christmas?’ I see his face tighten as a result and curse myself for starting the interrogation too soon.
‘It’s … it’s nothing to do with that.’ He shakes his head, like he’s trying to brush his own thoughts away. I continue to stare, trying to keep my imagination at bay and remain calm.