Book Review: Beneath The Surface by Fiona Neill

Beneath The Surface

I read – and enjoyed – The Betrayals by Fiona Neill last year, and so was chuffed when the publisher emailed me to ask if I’d like an advanced review copy – clearly I said yes!! I finished it last week – on publication date – but it’s taken me this long to write a review – but at least that means if you like the sound of it you can download it immediately!

Here is the Amazon blurb:

“After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone’s golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace’s carefully ordered world begins to unravel.

Dark rumours swirl around their tight-knit community on the edge of the Fens as everyone comes up with their own theories about what happened. Consumed with paranoia, and faced with increasing evidence that Lilly has been leading a secret life, Grace starts to search for clues.

Left to her own devices, ten-year-old Mia develops some wild theories of her own that have unforeseen and devastating consequences for the people she loves most.

Beneath the Surface explores the weight of the past upon the present, the burden of keeping secrets and what happens when children get caught in the undercurrents of adult relationships. “

Again – I really enjoyed this domestic drama, which twists and turns just like Fiona Neill’s previous book.  I guess I also empathised with Grace even more having daughters of a similar age (although I’ve got so many kids, I often have one or two that are the right age for characters in books!!!)

As it says in the subtitle ‘everyone lies’ – and you know that people are lying from the start – but you’re not quite sure why or how, but it all becomes clear as the book progresses – eventually!

Lilly is superficially a golden child and girlie swot at school – but is leading a secret teenage life.  Her younger sister, Mia, is a more complicated character who struggles fitting in at school – and has two friends, Tas (from the local traveller community) and Elvis (an eel she keeps in a bucket in her bedroom!).  Patrick, the father, is in financial difficulties – and Grace, the mother, is desperately trying to provide a stable family environment for her daughters that she didn’t have herself.  There are other peripheral characters – an Aunt and Uncle, teenager friends, other parents – and everything intertwines.

The descriptions of the dust problems in their new house, the geography of the Fens and the bad weather are also really evocative (not sure I’ll be going to the Fens on holiday any time soon!)

Overall I did enjoy this and was pleased to see how it all panned out and would recommend it. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

I have to confess that I was given an advanced review copy of this by NetGalley – but it sat on my Kindle unread for months and months.  Not because I didn’t want to read it – but other stuff took priority.  However this has worked out for the best as it ended up a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2017 – and so it can knock off the ‘celebrity book club’ category on my 2018 Reading Challenge!

The Betrayals

Here’s the blurb:

“None of them would forget that week on the wild Norfolk coast.
Best friends Rosie and Lisa’s families had always been inseparable.

But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband Nick.
And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter that exposes dark secrets.
Daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel.
Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer.
And Nick must confront his own version of events.
There are four sides to this story.
Who will you believe?”

So the book is told by each of the family members in turn – the parents, Rosie and Nick, and their children Daisy and Max.  Some of it is present day – and some of it is 8 years ago when their lives imploded.

It is VERY clever – and the way it weaves in Rosie and Nick’s careers is well thought through and plotted.

I can totally see why it makes a good book club choice as it’s so intricate – and you’re rooting for different people at different times, so there would be lots to discuss.

The term OCD is thrown about just because someone is a bit anal about you not wearing shoes in their house, or if people like their light switches all facing the same way (both of these could possible be referencing myself!) – but this shows just how debilitating proper OCD can be – with rituals, phrases and other behaviour patterns that can destroy a normal life.

There were a number of times when I shouted at my Kindle, as the characters just needed to discuss matters together and be honest with each other – but clearly that would have made for a less interesting book!

The betrayals are varied – the standard husband / wife betrayal, but also between best friends, siblings and family friends – it’s all riddled with it!

Overall I enjoyed the book – and am glad I have FINALLY got round to reading it.