Monday, August 24

Whispers and Lies – Joy Fielding

Forty-year-old Terry Painter has hopes that the son of her favourite patient might be interested in her as more than just his mother's nurse. Otherwise her life is quiet and predictable, and that’s the way she likes it. Her colleagues at the hospital where she works are friendly but not friends, and since her mother died she's moved out of the flat out back and into the main house.
Her first experience with a boarder wasn't very successful, but Terry has high hopes for Alison Simms, a young girl who rapidly becomes the only real friend she's ever had. When she reflects on it, Terry realises that she knows very little about Alison, and she has suspicions about her the relationship she has with a man they claim is her brother. But not all is as it seems, and as events unfold Terry's quiet, tranquil life changes in ways she couldn't imagine.
Fielding writes domestic horror, and though it's been many years since I read her novels, they used to be something of a staple for me about a decade ago. I was prepared to accept the really strong foreshadowing and unlikeable protagonist as stylistic choices that, though they didn't appeal might suit the work. Certainly I liked the unfolding picture of Terry's distorted relationship with her now dead mother, and the way that affected her adult life was beautifully portrayed. However the power of the book rests with the surprise twist, and sadly I spotted it very early on, leaving the unappealing central character, heavy foreshadowing and rather pedestrian plot unredeemed. - Alex

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