Published by HarperCollins Canada on May 19th 2015
Genres: Fiction, General
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She looks at it lying there facedown and still open where she left it. The book she trusted. Its first few chapters had lulled her into complacency, made her feel at ease with just the hint of a mild thrill to come, a little something to keep her reading, but no clue to what was lying in wait. It beckoned her on, lured her into its pages, further and further until she realised she was trapped. Then words ricocheted around her brain and slammed into her chest, one after another. It was as if a queue of people had jumped in front of a train and she, the helpless driver, was powerless to prevent the fatal collision. It was too late to put the brakes on. There was no going back. Catherine had unwittingly stumbled across herself tucked into the pages of the book.
Documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft finds a mysterious book in her house. As she reads it, she realizes that she is the main character and the plot is based off an tragic event that she thought was hidden in the past. How did this book come into her possession? Who wrote it? Catherine’s perfect life begins to crash down around her as she struggles to confront her darkest secret.
There is something extremely satisfying in that idea. A fish out of water. A fish rudely introduced to a hostile environment. Will it survive? Unlikely. The sudden exposure will probably kill it. They drown, don’t. they, fish. If they’re left too long out of water. Exposure first, and then perhaps I’ll put it out of its misery.
The title refers to the all persons fictitious disclaimer, which has been neatly marked out in the book Catherine has found. I really love the premise. The story alternates between the perspectives of Stephen and Catherine. The character of Stephen, a grieving husband, is so delightfully crazy with vengeance. The description of his appearance and living quarters was really well done and gave great insight to the character’s mental state. He reminded me a little bit of the father from The Dinner. Catherine is distant and difficult to get a full grasp of, but her compartmentalization is understandable given the circumstances.
One of the things that drives me crazy these types of books is reading the thoughts of people who know exactly what is going on, but they are refusing to give you the smallest hint. There is a certain point where I start getting impatient. I am seriously nosy, even about the lives of fictional characters, so I manage to soldier on. These characters talk around the issue until around the 40% mark. I really couldn’t put this book down. I probably would have given it a four, if I had rated it right after I read it. As I started thinking about it, it became more of a 3 star.
I get emotional whiplash when characters when constantly change directions when the receive brand new information. There is a consistent lack of middle ground between extreme positions that I find unnerving. For example: View Spoiler »The husband automatically accepts the book at face value. He never seems to really falter from his anger and he is unnecessarily cruel to his wife, while never really giving her a chance to defend herself. Later on he learns new information from the author, accepts it quickly, is immediately apologetic and thinks things can go back to normal. I am glad there were consequences for that situation. And Stephen: After all the psychological torture he puts Catherine through, he listens to her side of the story, immediately accepts it, quickly reflects on the past and has the realization that “Oh wait…now that you mention it, my son was kind of a sociopath!” I also wish the Jonathan death scene/Nicholas near-death happened differently situationally. Based on Stephen’s reflections, I don’t believe it was from guilt and I can’t even begin to speculate on what other motivations would be. I wish the assault scene had been less detailed. « Hide Spoiler I kind of hated Nicholas and really wanted to skim through his scenes.
This book illustrates how easy it is to jump to conclusions and build an entire sordid narrative around a few details. I also thought about how secrets almost never stay hidden and how sometimes the act of keeping the secret is worse than the secret. Catherine’s comments about a View Spoiler »woman having to “prove innocence” « Hide Spoiler were also interesting and make her motivations for keeping the secret more understandable.
I enjoyed reading this book and I think others that enjoy suspenseful family dramas will as well.