Behind Closed Doors by Catherine Alliott

My thanks to the publisher, Michael Joseph, for asking me to take part in this blog tour and for providing a review copy. The decision to take part was my own and this review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.

But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.

As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London – and the stories it hides – for a rural escape to her parents’ farmhouse in the Chilterns.

But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home, especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.

Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she’s been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .

Review

This is the book review that nearly wasn’t – not anything to do with the book, but since moving last week our internet provider, instead of moving our internet connection, somehow decided (that despite my ringing and amending our move date to coincide with the connection date they told me we could have) instead cancelled our internet entirely. It has been a week of searching for tentative 4G connections in random rooms and having conversations with the kids about ‘the olden days’ when there were just four tv channels with kids tv being limited to after school and weekend mornings. The upside however is that I’ve been YouTube Kids free for a week and my nerves feel positively rebuilt as a result.

But we’re now connected and although a little later than I would normally post, onto Behind Closed Doors by Catherine Alliott. A new author for me, and I must admit, one I’ve not heard of previously – although it seems she has quite a back catalogue! This novel tells the story of Lucy Palmer, a wife and mother of two grown up children, Imogen and Ned, who lives a seemingly perfect life. When her marriage suddenly ends she is left considering the past, the present and her future, all whilst nursing a dark secret.

Despite how busy the last week has been personally, this has been an enjoyable book to delve into in the evenings. The core theme of the book is the toxic marriage between Lucy and Michael and the effect it has had on her and their children. It sounds quite dark, and it is, but the first-person narration tends to allude to events and leave to the reader’s imagination rather than specifically create scenes. At times I was a little frustrated with this as I was looking for a fuller picture of what this character had been through, but as I read on I realised that this more omissive approach served to round Lucy’s character in the here and now, so that even in this most revealing narration she was still unwilling to tell the whole truth, and this really helped me to understand her character, possibly more than if she’d relayed every event. I think sometimes there is a power in what is not said, and I think that is certainly the case here.

The secret Lucy carries with her for much of the book was wonderful at making me post situational questions to my own conscience, and I really think it was a question that was further heightened because by this point I had such a strong sense of who Lucy was and what she had gone through. The greyness of the area added something a little different to the novel and I really liked how the novel explored the impact on Lucy in combination with the already tumultuous life she has led.

Behind Closed Doors is very much a family drama, and the family characters are front and centre, both the good and the bad. Within them there are some wonderful characters in this book, in particular Lucy’s elderly parents, with the role reversal of the parent/child relationship offering some humorous and also some very sobering, emotive moments. They were so well drawn that I felt I was in their home with them, perching insect-like on the nearest wall.

If you enjoy your books with a great cast of characters, and a slowly unfolding, but yet ultimately satisfying story – then this is for you. A lovely book to relax with on a lazy weekend.

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