I am pleased to be hosting today's stop on the blog tour for What Alice Knew and write this review with thanks to Penguin Random House for my advance review copy of the book.
Alice and Ed Sheahan are a normal couple with a normal family life, until one day Alice receives a call from someone who hangs up, notices that Ed has changed the password on his mobile phone and finds some flowers sent to her husband. She resolves to find out what is going on, but will she receive the answer she expected, and how far will she go to protect her marriage?
Although What Alice Knew begins as a slow burner, Cotterell is a master of suspense in the way that he builds a picture of the Sheahan family for the reader. Alice and Ed appear to be an average couple with two average children: a teenage daughter who is always on her phone and a boisterous younger son who is in trouble at school for pushing his classmate into the school pond. There is nothing spectacular about them and I did not find them to be particularly likeable characters. However, this is a clever narrative device from Cotterell, as about half way through, Ed makes a revelation that shakes the family to its core, and this makes the reader realise that anyone could find themselves in a similar situation, and question what we would do if we were. As such, I became easily immersed in Ed and Alice's story, and wanted to find out what happened to them.
Alice is a portrait painter, and through the narration (which is written from Alice's perspective) Cotterell shares the view that a portrait can reflect many different aspects of its subject. I found this theme very interesting on a personal level, because as people we share different sides of ourselves in different circumstances, and as readers we interpret different parts of a novel in different ways. I was fascinated to see this theme develop through the novel, particularly as Alice tried to express her viewpoint to her husband.
If you have read my reviews previously, you will know that I particularly enjoy novels with a twist. The twist in What Alice Knew happens just a few pages from the end and it hit me like a tonne of bricks, and made me rethink the course of the entire novel. Cotterell has also left the reader with a fairly open ending, which provides more questions than it answers, but this serves to heighten the effect of Cotterell's dramatic writing style, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What Alice Knew is available from Amazon.
Please take time to visit the other wonderful blogs taking part in the blog tour for What Alice Knew.