A middle-aged British woman invites an old friend for an open-ended visit, wreaking chaos in her own family, in this twisty domestic thriller.
Melanie Harrison is startled to receive an email from Abigail Curtiz, a woman she lost touch with nearly two decades earlier. Abi's email explains that she is in the midst of an ugly divorce, and she would like to reconnect. Melanie and Abi have led very different lives in the years since they lost touch. Melanie quit school to raise the baby she had at age 19, while Abi found professional success and moved to California with her handsome, wealthy husband. Abi's Hollywood life was enviable until she caught her husband cheating with a younger woman. When Melanie learns the circumstances of the divorce, she feels compelled to provide sanctuary for Abi and invites her for a visit. Melanie is proud of the turns her own life has taken and looks forward to showing off her good luck to her friend. She's married to a wonderful man named Ben, with whom she's had two adorable children. Unfortunately, once Abi moves her suitcase into the Harrisons' spare room, Melanie's picture-perfect life begins to disintegrate. Ben is suddenly irritable all the time, and Melanie finds herself falling under Abi's indescribable spell, drinking, gossiping, and shirking her responsibilities. As Abi's stay draws on, secrets begin to emerge in the Harrison house and tensions rise until so much of Melanie's life begins to feel precarious. Melanie's attempts to impress her old friend could end up destroying the life she has worked so hard to create. Told from multiple perspectives in witty and often conversational prose, the story starts jauntily enough but becomes increasingly ominous. The author builds suspense by exposing the holes in ostensibly strong character relationships, creating an addictive page-turner as readers wait for the other shoe to drop over and again. Although many plot points could be deemed predictable, there are enough surprises to keep readers aggressively engaged. Full of details about life in the suburbs of London, the story is full of emotional insights about parenting, marriage, and personal legacies.
A smart, suspenseful tale about love, betrayal, and the illusion of happiness.