EXCERPT: Friday 13 January, 2017
London 12:30 p.m.
She must be mistaken, but it looks exactly like someone is moving into her house.
The van is parked halfway down Trinity Avenue, its square mouth agape, a large piece of furniture sliding down the ribbed metal tongue. Fi watches, squinting into the buttery sunlight – rare for the time of year, a gift – as the object is borne shoulder-high by two men through the gate and down the path.
My gate. My path.
No, that’s illogical: of course it can’t be her house. It must be the Reese’s, two down from hers; they put their place on the market in the autumn and no one is quite sure if a sale has gone through. The houses on this side of Trinity Avenue are all built the same – red-bricked double-fronted Edwardians in pairs, their owners united in a preference for front doors painted black – and everyone agrees it’s easy to miscount.
Once when Bram came stumbling home from one of his ‘quick drinks’ at The Two Brewers, he went to the wrong door and she heard through the open bedroom window the scrambling and huffing as her inebriated husband failed to fit his key into the lock of number 87, Merle and Adrian’s place. His persistence was staggering, his dogged belief that if he only kept trying the key would work.
‘But they all look the same,’ he’d protested in the morning.
‘The houses, yes, but even a drunk couldn’t miss the magnolia,’ Fi had told him, laughing. (This was back when she was still amused by his inebriety and not filled with sadness – or disdain, depending on her mood.)
Her step falters: the magnolia. It’s a landmark, their tree, a celebrated sight when in blossom and beautiful even when bare, as it is now, the outer twigs etched into the sky with an artist’s flair. And it is definitely in the front garden of the house with the van outside.
ABOUT ‘OUR HOUSE’: On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.
Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.
When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.
Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.
MY THOUGHTS: Plenty of twists and turns culminating in an unexpected and ironic ending.
I love Louise Candlish’s talent for writing engrossing neighbourhood dramas! There is a lot more going on in this story than is immediately obvious.
The plot is as outlined above, and I am not going to elaborate on that in any way for fear of revealing spoilers. But let’s just say that Candlish strung me along beautifully.
Bram is an awful husband. He is unfaithful to Fi, and those are not the only secrets he is keeping from her! I can’t say that I really warmed to Fi either – she seemed to me to be a bit of a cold fish, concerned more about appearances and status than the reality of the situation.
But the story itself is delicious. It’s told from the viewpoints of both Fi and Bram as their marriage crumbles and Bram is caught up in a web of deceit and blackmail. So we, the readers, know things about Bram that Fi doesn’t and vice-versa. While ignorance may be bliss in some situations, that certainly isn’t the case here.
I loved the ending.
I: @louisecandlish @wfhowes
T: @louise_candlish @WFHowes
#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama
THE AUTHOR: Sunday Times bestselling author Louise Candlish was born in Northumberland and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and has lived in the capital ever since.
Louise lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband, teenage daughter and fox-red Labrador, Bertie. Besides books, the things she likes best are: coffee; TV; salted caramel; tennis; lasagne; old heavy metal; ‘The Archers’ (but not the lockdown monologues); white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar). Her favourite book is Madame Bovary.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to Our House written by Louise Candlish, narrated by Deni Francis and Paul Panting, published by W.F. Howes Ltd via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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