There’s something rather lovely about being approached by a new-to-you publisher – RedDoor Publishing – and finding that they were offering a few books for review that I really rather liked the look of. Today I’m delighted to be joining the tour for Because I Was Lonely, the debut novel from Hayley Mitchell, due for publication on 2nd March.
Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity and the safety of her children.
Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.
So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.
Four lonely people. Two unhappy marriages. One dangerous, but inevitable climax.
Because I Was Lonely expertly traces the rollercoaster of actions and reactions experienced by a cast of credible, fallible, and ultimately human, characters. The author carefully captures their emotions and handles the multiple viewpoints deftly, in this cleverly crafted, unputdownable debut novel.
I’ll be honest and admit that I found the first part of this book – where we get to know Rachel, and watch her, sleep-deprived and with her life falling apart – very difficult to read. Nothing to do with the writing – it’s a wonderful insight into someone very close to the edge – but it really wasn’t the right book for me when I really needed my reading to be a little lighter.
But then came the introduction to Adam, and I found the pages turning more quickly – despite his situation, suffering with PTSD after the death of his parents. Then came the introduction to their partners – David and Julia (I really liked her) – and their lives, and I was hooked. This is an author with real skill at bringing her characters vividly to life – not necessarily people you like, but individuals that you feel you really know, getting into their damaged minds and sharing their inner thoughts.
The book really takes off with the Facebook private messages between Rachel and Adam. I thought the whole thing was perfectly paced, the message exchanges punctuated by real life and the perspectives of the different characters. Very cleverly done… and very realistic. And just a little frightening too, with an edginess that keeps you distinctly unsettled, a great examination of the blurring between fantasy and reality with a perfect touch of obsession. I really did enjoy this one – an extremely accomplished debut.
My thanks to Anna Burtt at RedDoor for my review copy and for inviting me to be part of the tour.
About the author
Hayley Mitchell spends most of the time writing books in her head and was finally able to put finger to keyboard and capture some of those words in the form of her debut novel Because I Was Lonely.
A law graduate she has spent most of her life working with people and much of her career as an advice worker for charities. Always fascinated by people and their relationships she began to write fiction. She is very lucky to live in Wiltshire with her husband, whose support has been invaluable and their two children who amuse, inspire and exhaust her everyday. She now divides her time between her family, running a small business encouraging creativity in children and writing her second novel.