Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.
Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.
Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.
One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac. Two sisters. One truth.
I got this book cheap in a book sale but didn't honestly expect to like it. I targeted it in December to read for that reason-I thought it would be a quick DNF. Instead it turned out to be a pretty good thriller with a few interesting twists to it.
Clare remembers the day that her father had that fight with her mother and how he left with her sister Alice, never to be seen again. Clare and her mother searched without success for Alice but one day out of the blue, they receive a letter from her, wanting to reunite and visit them. The joy of the reunion quickly goes sour for Clare when she realises that Alice very different from her in many ways. She struggles to find things in common with her sister, finds her habits annoying and starts to get jealous over having to share her family with her. She becomes convinced that Alice is determined to take over her family and push Clare out and the rest of the family start to think that it is Clare who is behaving badly.
Clare is a working mum who is a partner in a local law firm with her ex boyfriend and a friend of her mother. She has an artist husband Luke that she supports financially and two lovely daughters. Life is good but she can never forget the day that her sister was taken away from her. She thinks that having Alice back in her life will make everything complete but when they finally meet up. things don't go to plan. Having grown up in America with her father, Alice is totally different-her accent, the food she likes, her personality, and Clare struggles to click with her. At first she puts it down to being apart so long but the more contact she has with Alice, the more she starts to dislike and resent her.
Her family are convinced that Clare is behaving badly towards Alice, accusing her of things that she didn't do, and being cruel enough to make Alice cry. Alice appears to be trying to make Clare look bad all the time, driving a wedge between Clare and Luke, and hiding vital papers that cause trouble for her at work. Their family think that Clare is paranoid or losing her grip on reality, and it gets to the stage when Clare even starts to doubt herself. Clare is sure that Alice is trying to push her out of her own life, dressing like her, taking Luke away from her and destroying every relationship that she has. With things getting bad enough that the police are involved, Clare decides that it is time to look into Alice and her life to try and understand why she is trying to destroy her, thus finding a way to stop her.
I got the impression from the blurb that we were going to get a dual POV, showing things from the view of both Clare and Alice, letting the reader try to decide which sister is telling the truth and who is really behaving badly. However the book only looks at things through Clare's eyes so we see why she believes that Alice is bad and how their relationship goes downhill fast. The book is not just about the relationship between the sisters. It also goes into the secrets that the characters are carrying around with them. Why exactly did her father take Alice away and not Clare, and why did their mother not fight to keep Alice? Why will her mother not talk about what ended her marriage? Why is Alice so reluctant to talk about her life in America? Why did her friend pull out of the trip at the last minute? We also discover that Clare is keeping a bombshell secret of her own.
I found the plot twists to be fascinating. The final third of the book throws everything you thought you knew up into the air. I loved the way that the plot played out and the way the family secrets were all connected. It certainly added extra layers to the plot and led to a pretty satisfying if surprising solution. The characters were all really interesting. I liked Clare and I felt her frustration that nobody seemed to be listening to her fears about Alice, and I felt bad for her as she slowly started to lose everything. I could understand her jealousy and insecurity over Alice getting all the attention and I did quite admire the way she refused to sit back and let Alice take control. I did get frustrated that a lawyer was so bad at putting forward a sensible arguement to prove what she said about Alice, talking to her family about it instead of just sceaming out deranged sounding accusations.
I did not expect the big twist that came and loved that surprise. I did suspect the person who was involved but it didn't spoil what was coming. Overall I found this to be an enjoyable thriller and I'd certainly be interested in more books by the author if I find a plot that interests me. Fans of the Single White Female kind of thriller may well like this one.
Read December 2018