Callie and Suzy are neighbours on Churchill Road in north London, close to Alexandra Palace. Callie's daughter Rae has a heart condition and she has to be careful not to over exert herself. American Suzy has a son, Henry, who is friends with Rae, and also she has twin sons. New neighbours Debs and her husband Allen move into the street, next door to Suzy. Callie is separated from husband Tom, whilst Suzy's husband Jez seems to spend every hour of the day working, with little time for her or the children. Callie and Suzy have formed a kind of friendship through the friendship of their children Rae and Henry, offering support to each other and often sharing childcare duties.
Callie hasn't found many of the other mothers at Rae's school to be at all friendly, feels left out, and so has found that she has come to rely on Suzy and her support more than she would perhaps like to. As the novel opens, we meet Callie trying to prepare herself to draw back from her reliance on Suzy.
I found myself immediately drawn into the story and interested in the characters, and I stayed interested throughout. It's a page-turner, a quick read with fairly short chapters, alternating between the three neighbours Callie, Suzy, and Debs. Callie's story, her life with Rae and her secrets, are at the centre of the novel and her story is told in the first person. The everyday concerns of the school run, friendships, relationships are portrayed, characters are established, and the story builds slowly and steadily. But there is a darkness lurking somewhere, only hinted at, and towards the conclusion, the author really ratchets up the tension, and as we learn more about each of the three characters' pasts, we being to piece together where the danger really lies, as the truth slowly emerges, and the tale builds to a tense finish.
This novel makes you think about your friendships, how you judge people, whether someone is really a friend or a stranger, and who has your best interests at heart. It gives an insight into the psychology of how a controlling, manipulative person behaves, and is a stark reminder that you really never know who you can totally trust.
I enjoyed this book, and would read more from this author in the future.