My thanks go out to Noelle, representing publisher Bookouture, for saving me a place on this lovely ‘Books On Tour’ schedule.
I also need to thank the great NetGalley team, for always making life so easy when downloading review copies.
A MOTHER’S LIE
Ali turned towards the cottage, anger flooding through her. She’d believed she and Meg were friends; that they’d bonded over a vision of motherhood… a world where your baby deserved everything you could give it. She’d pulled Meg’s words – Meg’s life – around her, like a comfort blanket. But that shared vision had never existed. And Ali was alone now, with nothing to protect her.
When Ali Lawton flees her broken marriage to spend the last months of her pregnancy in her late grandmother’s seaside cottage, all she wants is to be alone. Then she meets Michael and Meg, the couple next door, and she’s drawn into their idyllic family life – a vision of what she could have had if things were different.
When Michael suddenly leaves for a work trip, Meg invites Ali to move in. The women form a close bond, but the more time Ali spends with Meg and her baby daughter, the more she notices her friend’s erratic behaviour. As time passes and Meg spins further out of control, Ali begins to wonder where Michael actually is and why he hasn’t returned. Is it possible he’s not on a work trip at all?
When Ali gives Meg a beloved childhood toy as a peace offering, she hopes it will give the friends a chance to heal. But Meg becomes distressed when she sees the toy and it’s clear that something far darker lies behind Michael’s disappearance.
Ali had always thought returning to her childhood safe haven would be the start of a hopeful future for her and her baby. But is she about to expose a past secret which will threaten everything she has ever known?
She can’t remember a time when she didn’t love writing. From creating fake newspapers to writing letters to the editor, scribbling something was always on the agenda. Even the rejections she received after completing her first novel at age 13 didn’t dent her enthusiasm.
Her first ambition was to be a journalist, but after completing a Master’s in Journalism, she soon realised she preferred anything other than reporting the news. After trying her hand at public relations, teaching, recruitment, editing medical journals and even a stint at painting houses, in various countries around the world, she finally settled in London and returned to writing…fiction, this time.
Leah’s first two novels, Who We Were Before and The Man I Thought You Were, were shortlisted at the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards.
She loves books, running and visiting historic houses with her husband and their son.
Leah also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland.
Keep up to date with all Leah’s news at her website
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CHAPTER ONE – VIOLET
“Shouts pull me from my sleep – at least I think I was asleep. The older I get, the less certain I am of the difference between dream and reality. I sit up slowly, the bones in my back grudgingly creaking into gear, and listen. Yes, there it is again: a cry ringing through the night air. What on earth is happening?”
“Although she and my son came for visits every once in a while, I didn’t encourage it. I didn’t want a reminder of how I couldn’t keep my loved ones safe. It was better to close myself off completely than risk hurting them”
“She always said she came here to get away, so why would she bring the world with her?”
“They were like her father: people who didn’t understand what promises were; people who let anger, fear and emotion weaken and break the bonds. People who did disappoint those who loved them”
“I try to picture me going with him… driving away from this self-imposed prison and towards a new life. But I can’t. I may have opened the door to my cell – I may have reached towards the light – but I don’t think I can ever leave”
“They’d both been through so much, living in their own private hells. They’d both clung to a version of reality, of the future, that hadn’t existed to help them through. But now that had been swept away. Now, they’d faced the pain of their pasts and they were still here… stronger than ever. Ready to face whatever might come”
“Life was precious; life was fleeting. It could change in an instant, leading you down a different path than you ever expected. You could choose light – Hope – or you could choose darkness, dwelling alone in grief, uncertainty or pain”
“how far will we go to protect those we love the most?”
When I closed the final page on this heart-breaking story, complete though it was, I just felt as though I wanted to go and hug the one person who means the most to me, and let him know how much I love him!
Right from the very first page of this book, something just didn’t feel right, although I couldn’t have told you what it was. The more I read, the more disturbed my thinking and reasoning became, so convinced was I, that I was losing touch with reality in some way. Imagining things that couldn’t possibly be true, yet not realising how easily I could be deceived and manipulated.
A contemporary, dual timeline story, although only separated by a year, which seemed like a lifetime. Narrated in the voices of Violet and her granddaughter Ali and divided into neat, well signposted, bite-sized chapters, which kept the story fluid and moving forwards, even though at certain moments, time seemed to stand still for an age.
Author Leah Mercer, took me on an intensely desperate and multi-layered journey, which right from the outset I didn’t want to contemplate. Yet it was done with such skilled perception and heartfelt compassionate storytelling, that I never even noticed her guiding hand leading the way. This compelling and gripping storyline, was engineered with total authority, consummate ease and complete confidence in the imagery she could conjure up with her words.
Two women, one cottage, one set of neighbours – Oh! the secrets, the lies, the pain and the burden of guilt. Fear of the unknown and self-loathing, the mental anguish of time, relationships and lives wasted, all laid bare during the course of some beautifully textured observational and descriptive narrative, combined with some excellent and very assured conversational dialogue, which all helped to set the scene and give a real sense of time and place, so that I could imagine myself standing on those windswept clifftops, overlooking a seascape which could be either benign or deadly, at just a moments notice, in the blink of an eye.
A grandmother and granddaughter, separated by a generation, but both faced with the need to find solace and seclusion in this place of isolation, as they contemplate their losses, unimaginable grief, and come to terms with their uncertain futures. Both find themselves embroiled in the lives of their one and only neighbour, a volatile family on the edge and crying out desperately for help, although their pleas remain silent and their only means of being heard may result total destruction for everyone! There were so many twists and turns to this slow burning living hell, that I couldn’t keep up with them all and certainly never saw some of them coming.
Leah created an intimate and animated cast of emotionally complex characters. Raw and passionate, vulnerable and angry, authentic yet constantly searching for that illusive sense of belonging. They were completely unengaging and unrelatable, making it so difficult to empathise with them, although I really felt as though I should and I owed it to them to try. The three women, Violet, Ali and Meg, are definitely stronger than their male counterparts, in that it is easier for them to eventually discover their latent strength and recognise that, having voiced aloud the individual demons they each face, they can move forward stronger.
A complimentary download of this book for review purposes, was made available by Bookouture and supplied by NetGalley
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!