CLOSE TO ME | Amanda Reynolds
12.05.2017 | Quercus USA
Rating: 4/5 stars
Jo Harding wakes up on the way to the hospital in an ambulance. Everyone around her is telling her she fell down the stairs. The last thing Jo can remember is taking her son, Fin, to university with her husband, Rob. The problem is that was a year ago.
As I succumb to sleep the memories come, but I know they are unreliable: broken and unpredictable. The harder I search the further they retreat, but then something breaks through, at once unbidden and yet desperately wanted. As much as I crave the past, I fear it too.
Jo has no recollection of what happened in the last year of her life. She can’t remember the night of her fall, but she has an overwhelming sense of dread and fear towards her husband. Rob seems to have convinced her children to not to mention what has happened over the course of the last year. He is constantly reiterating to Jo how happy they are in their marriage. If all of this is true, why does Rob insist on hiding the last year? Why is Jo feeling this way towards the man she has been married to for the last 24 years? Is it possible that Rob pushed her down the stairs?
I wonder at how we seem to have canceled out the previous twenty-three years of marriage in a single year; become strangers to each other, distrustful ones at that. I look up at him and find he’s regarding me with a look of deep concentration, as if he’s working me out as I try to do the same with him.
Amanda Reynolds does a stunning job of drawing the reader in to Jo Harding’s life in CLOSE TO ME. Each chapter is broken down between present day and a flashback from the last year of Jo’s life. As the novel progresses the reader is inched closer to the day of the fall, until we’re finally able to learn what has happened. Reynolds presents the reader not only with an unreliable narrator, but a cast of unreliable secondary characters as well. The reader is never sure who to trust with the information they’re revealing to Jo about her life, as each person she talks to has individual motives to spin their stories in their best light. At the end of the novel Reynolds creates a masterful ending where each loose end is neatly tied and the reader is left feeling fulfilled. CLOSE TO ME is a slow-burn psychological thriller presented in a unique style with chapters containing both past and present, in which the reader is give a web of lies they must work to untangle while trusting the less than accurate mind of a woman suffering from partial amnesia.
A special thank you to Quercus USA and Amanda Reynolds for providing me a copy of CLOSE TO ME in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.