Published August 2015 by Gallery/Scout Press
Source: bought my copy ??? years ago
What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.
Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.
I feel like this book came out long before 2015. Ware has, after all, written four books since then with a fifth coming out soon. And it feels like I’ve been wanting to read it for ages. But, as I so often tell you, it’s been languishing on the shelves…yadda yadda yadda.
Then a couple of weeks ago, when I was about ready for another book in print, and not quite feeling like picking up either of the big books I’ve checked out from the library, Ti (Book Chatter) said that she was reading this one and ended up really enjoying it. So I decided it was time for this one. I’m a fan of Ware’s, having read and enjoyed her The Turn of The Key, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, and The Woman In Cabin 10 so I figured this one was a safe bet, particularly since so many people had told me it was her best work. Those people were right.
Yes, yes, the unreliable narrator is getting to be standard character but here Ware gives us an unreliable narrator who considers herself every bit as unreliable as she does to us. She’s lost her memory of some key time periods and begins to wonder if the police might not be right about what has happened, of her own sense of what she is capable of is off. Exactly who is she? Is she still Lee? Is she Nora? Ware moves back and forth between Nora in the hospital gradually realizing that she is a suspect in a death but initially not even sure who has died.
When this book was released, some compared it to Gone Girl and Girl On A Train. I'm not sure I would compare it to those books, which had some really major surprises that changed the entire book. Here the reveals are less startling and provide clarity more than they take us in a new direction. As much as I enjoyed those other books, I think I preferred this book, which slowly revealed its secrets but still managed to amp up the suspense. I kept trying to remember how Ware had ended her other books. Did our heroines end up being saved? Or did Ware let them take a fall? I really, really wanted to look to find out but I also did not want to spoil this book for myself.