EXCERPT: Her breath condenses in front of her and she has a sudden memory of herself as a child standing outside on a winter’s morning, blowing out and watching, fascinated, as her breath emerged in a cloud. She is no longer a child but she feels like one, overwhelmed by confusion, by her lack of control.
How has this happened?
How could I not have known?
Is this what I deserve?
The street is eerily silent, the barren housing plots looming large in the darkness, threatening them with their emptiness.
There is a slight hum of cars coming from the highway in the distance, where nothing stops the endless streams of traffic – not the dark, nor the cold, nor the late hour.
She is dressed for the weather, with her coat on and a beanie hat, but she regrets it now that she’s running. Her hands are freezing but she can feel a trickle of sweat make its way down her back. She pushes her body to move faster, pushes against the wind that seems determined to send her backwards. They need to get there quickly.
We’re coming, baby. We’re coming.
‘Come alone,’ he had instructed?
But she’s not alone.
‘Don’t tell anyone,’ he had commanded.
But she had told someone.
‘I just want to talk,’ he had stated.
But what could there be to say?
‘I won’t hurt her,’ he had promised.
She knows that’s a lie.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: You tell him everything. The husband you adore, the father of your child, your best friend. He knows, just by looking at your sage-green eyes, when something is wrong. The two of you can communicate with a glance, or a touch of the hand. Except what if you can’t? What if your happy marriage has plastered over one huge lie? A lie you have even started to believe yourself, in order to survive? What if you have a secret, something you have hidden from your beloved husband and your strawberry-scented baby girl, to keep them safe? What if the guilt has kept you up, night after night, for as long as you can remember? What happens when suddenly, after twenty-eight years, that secret refuses to stay buried? What will you do now everyone you love, everything you cherish, is in harm’s way?
MY THOUGHTS: There is something very personal about the way Nicole Trope writes. It’s not like you’re on the outside looking in, you feel like you are there, that you know these people, the characters in The Life She Left Behind. So you’re not rubbernecking at a life that has been dominated by domestic violence, you’re involved, totally involved in trying to extricate Veronica and her daughter Rachel from the clutches of a man who promised to love and protect, but who interprets that as being able to control and dominate. All. The. Time. The abuse is both physical and mental, and Trope delivers an emotional but well balanced portrait of the ongoing effects as a result of living in such an environment.
The story is written over two timelines – When Rachel is a child, growing up in an environment filled with domestic violence and fear; and twenty-eight years later when she is a mother, and her past comes back to haunt her. It is also told from multiple points of view: That of Rachel (Little Bird) as a child, Rachel as an adult, Ben (her husband), and another unknown person whose identity gradually becomes clear.
Sad and chilling in parts, The Life She Left Behind is full of hope and forgiveness in others. This is an emotional read and a very worthwhile one. Tissues required.
‘Once my anger met alcohol there was really only one way things were going to go.’
THE AUTHOR: Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband. She now lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture vis NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Life She Left Behind by Nicole Trope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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