The Family Next Door

The Family Next DoorThe Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 13th 2018
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1250120896
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Pleasant Court in Melbourne Australia seems like a pleasant place to live…or is it.? This is another book that asks the question “Just how well do you know someone?” You live with a person, share their bed, share meals with them, raise children with them, you know them right??? Well, do you?

Ahhhhhh, small towns. Lovely scenic places. They are supposed to be safe. Nothing bad ever happens there. How can it? Bad things don’t happen when things are so pleasant do they? What a joy to live in a community where you know your neighbors and your neighbors know you. A place where you can get together for neighborhood watch or just to chat about your day over a cup of tea or glass of wine. A place where one can smile and wave, believing that everything is okay, everything WILL be okay, everything should be okay…but what happens when it isn’t?

Have you ever know someone who looks like they have their shit together? Seriously, he/she is the one who looks great, smells great, is healthy, always smiling, always on time, never seems to have a bad day and you envy them…because life is hard and they make it look so easy. Well as they say, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. What drives someone to exercise excessively, what drives someone to always smile even thought their heart is breaking, who acts as if everything is honky dory even thought he/she is harboring a HUGE secret?

Every family/person in this book has something to hide.

Ange works out, gets her hair and nails done. She wants to look good for her handsome husband. He is a good looking man and women throw themselves at him. Ange wants to -no she needs to look good for him…..

Essie once took her daughter to the park and left her there. Her husband and Mother keep close eyes on her to make sure she is “Okay” Her mother, Barbara helps her out a lot as she had postpartum depression. She has even moved closer to Essie to help her out. A Mother’s job is never done…..

Fran runs all the time. Several times a day and she is uncomfortable when her husband is left alone with their youngest daughter. Why? She doesn’t seem to care when he is with their eldest. Their marriage seems fine so what is her issue?

Isabelle is the single woman who moved into the neighborhood. Single and childless, she sticks out and everyone wonders about her. But Isabelle also wonders about those in her neighborhood. She watches them and makes her observations.

It soon becomes evident that not everything is as it seems once you get behind closed doors. Characters have their secrets and as the book unfolds, their secrets come out. Some we see coming and there was one that was a shocker!

This was a really enjoyable read. It is fun, the plot moves along at a nice fast pace and nothing felt rushed or drawn out. I felt that the revelations came at just the right time. I liked how the story is told through the various women’s point of views. This is a great way to see what is motivating them, what is going on behind that smile, a look at their personal feelings and emotions. We learn their secrets and the secrets of other’s in their lives.

I have read a couple of Sally Hepwoth’s books (The things we keep, The Mother’s promise) and have enjoyed them! This is another wonderful book by her. So far she has not disappointed and I will continue to be a happy reader of her work.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to them for the opportunity.


The Mother’s Promise

The Mother’s PromiseThe Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 21st 2017
Pages: 368
ISBN: 1250077753
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3.5 stars

Received a ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At the beginning of the book Alice learns that she has Cancer. Instead of worrying about herself, she worries about her 15 year old daughter, Zoe. Alice and Zoe are a team. Zoe has never met her father and only has her Mother, Alice as support. Zoe also suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks. Due to Zoe’s anxiety, Alice has built her life around Zoe. They depend on each other and now that Alice is facing a major illness, she fears for her daughter and her future.

Alice soon has to rely on the kindness of strangers. She has a brother Paul but he is an alcoholic. He would like to help, and does as much as he can but it is obvious, he should not be the one taking care of a 15 year old girl if something should happen to Alice. So Alice leans on her kind oncology nurse, Kate who is dealing with personal issues of her own and her social worker, Sonja who also is dealing with serious issues in her own life. As Alice seeks treatment, her daughter is plagued with Anxiety and school issues.

This book is made up of up chapters dealing with each characters life. It is a glimpse into the lives of all of the women who must come together to help out Alice and her daughter Zoe but it is also about the women, their stories, their hardships and their relationships with others.

This book deals with a lot of issues: Cancer, Social Anxiety Disorder, domestic violence, infertility, getting help, learning to let others in, depending on others, and rape to name a few. What works is how real the situations in this book felt. Zoe pulled at my heart strings the most. The Author approached her Social Anxiety in a very realistic way – describing her symptoms and inner struggles. As a painfully shy teenager who had anxiety issues, I could really relate to this character. I liked how she faced her fears and opened up to Harry and Kate.

There is a twist in this book which I did not see coming but upon thinking about it, I was like “of course” and “yes, that makes sense”. There is some predictability her but that does not take away from this book. One thing I would have liked to have seen in this book is an epilogue.

The Things We Keep

The Things We KeepThe Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 19th 2016
Pages: 338
ISBN: 1250051908
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Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Things We Keep is such a beautiful book about two women and their families. Their lives cross when Eve takes a job at Rosalind House a care facility where Anna lives. Anna has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Eve’s husband has defrauded his clients and left Eve and their young daughter, Clementine alone and having to fend for themselves in the aftermath of his crime. This book is tole in 3 voices: Anna, Eve, and Clementine.

Anna is taken to Rosalind House by her twin brother, Jack and his family. She has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at thirty eight years of age. At Rosalind House she meets many residents but one stand out for her, Jack. Jack also has a debilitating disease and together they find love. But as Anna’s condition progresses, her brother does what he feels is in her best interest to care for her. Told in Anna’s point of view, her story is sad and tragic. She is a woman who tries to remember and leaves herself notes to help her get through her day to day life. She finally finds love when she is losing herself. Her story is sad, but she is also tough, strong and tries her best to live with her disease.

Eve is a Chef who has to put her skills to use at Rosalind House in an attempt to provide for her and her young daughter. She uses her job to get her daughter into a good school. As she begins her job she meets Anna and other residents at the Home and tries her best to provide for them. She feels for Anna and her relationship with Luke. She tries her best to help them with their love life as she tries to have a love life of her own.

Clem, Eve’s daughter suffers bullying at school due to the crimes committed by her father. Her Mother has tried to protect her and keep the “truth” about her father from her. As she is bullied she begins to have problems at school.

As the stories intertwine, we see into the lives of these 3 females and into their relationships with others. The book travels a little bit in time but if you read the headers the Author does tell you how long ago things happened.

I found this book to be beautiful, sad, heartbreaking and also uplifting at the same time. I think it takes a great deal of care and talent to pull all of those emotions off. Even as I felt bad for Luke and Anna, I was also shown their strength and determinations. This book is about many things but mainly about how the human spirit and how people try to do their best when they are given the worst. How does one cope when the unthinkable happens, when you are presented with a situation that cannot be controlled.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Perfect for book clubs. I highly recommend.