Annie Howarth is living a restless life in a restless town. It’s 1987 and for a mining community in South Yorkshire, the strikes mean tensions are running high. Then a murdered girl is found on the moors and the anxiety levels are pushed to a dangerous breaking point.
Married to the Chief of Police, Annie should feel safe – William can be secretive, though surely whatever he’s hiding is for her own good.
But Annie is keeping her own secrets. Ten years ago the man she loved was ripped from her life in a scandal that still haunts the both of them, and now his return will put her family, her marriage, even her life, at risk.
I’m an unashamed fan of Louise Douglas’ writing. This is her fifth novel since she first appeared with The Love of my Life back in 2009 – it was long-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award (and is currently available for Kindle at the ridiculous price of 95p at the time of writing, so do catch up with it if you haven’t already read it). Since then, she’s shown an immense ability to reinvent herself with every book. Her second, the heart-breaking Missing You, won the RNA Readers’ Choice Award (and is just 89p for Kindle…),: her third, The Secrets Between Us, a highly accomplished thriller and love story strongly reminiscent of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (and, I think, my favourite of them all) was a 2012 Richard and Judy Summer Read. In Her Shadow, I’ll admit, didn’t quite work for me… but now we have her new one, Your Beautiful Lies, and I’m delighted to report that I loved it.
You will, I know, read other reviews that say they found it claustrophobic – there is a lot of detail about Annie’s daily life, the routine and the boredom. Some people didn’t like the Yorkshire setting and the background of the miners’ strike, even thought it stereotyped. I really don’t agree – the tedium of Annie’s life and the very real domestic detail was what made it for me. The whole thing is just one enormous pressure cooker, against which the return of the love of Annie’s young life creates a series of ripples and waves – and, finally, a tsunami of epic proportions – that are immensely shocking. Annie is difficult to like – she’s irresponsible, careless, thoughtless, but driven by the passion that’s so lacking in her daily existence. The characters are all exceptionally well drawn – Louise Douglas shows her characteristic deftness of touch with dialogue. Her relationship with William is quite fascinating, and I enjoyed the contrasts between his incorruptible and professional persona as a police officer, his coldness within his marriage, and his love and warmth with his daughter. And the era is – for me – perfectly recreated, as is the bleakness and hopelessness of the setting. The ending, when it comes, is explosive – and exceptionally well done.
If you’ve read Louise Douglas’ books before, this one is very different. If you do read The Love of my Life, you won’t believe it was written by the same person. But it’s different in a wholly good way. I really enjoyed it, and the books of this exceptionally gifted author will most certainly stay on my “must read” list.
Your Beautiful Lies will be published by Black Swan/Transworld in paperback and Kindle editions on 14 August. My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading e-copy.
Louise Douglas was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, but moved to Somerset when she was 18 and has stayed there ever since. She has three beautiful sons, and lives with her husband, Kevin, who works in construction. Louise still has her day job with aircraft manufacturer Airbus. She works with some brilliant people and is passionate about aviation, engineering and sustainability. She continues to write her fiction in the evenings and sometimes through the night. In her spare time, Louise enjoys being with her family and friends, reading and walking. She goes out into the Mendips as often as possible with the family’s dogs Lil, and newer addition, Lola. There are rather a lot of pictures of the puppy on Facebook.