Review – The Broken by Tamar Cohen

By | May 1, 2015

Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl’s schooling. How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model.

Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides.

Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don’t put you in danger.

Best friends don’t always stay best friends.

Back in January, I got very behind with my reviews – nothing new there. But it was such a shame that I just wasn’t able to write a full review – and say how much I loved – Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen, and instead had to include it in a round-up. I can now put that right by telling you instead all about The Broken – issued under the name Tamar Cohen, and released in paperback by Black Swan on 23rd April. 

This has to be one of the most uncomfortable and unsettling books I’ve read in a long time – in a wholly positive and enjoyable way of course. To begin with , it’s the story of two couples – Dan and Sasha, Josh and Hannah. Dan and Sasha are a little more comfortable financially, but it doesn’t affect the friendship – they have daughters of a similar age who play together, the couples spend a lot of time together and share their secrets. 

Until, that is, Dan decides that his marriage is over – and Josh and Hannah find themselves very uncomfortably in the middle – trying to support them both, stay neutral, do the right things. As the separation gets increasingly ugly, things get worse for Josh and Hannah too – their marriage hasn’t been perfect for a while, each of them have their problems and secrets, and things start to break apart under the pressure.

None of the characters are particularly likeable, and you wouldn’t want them as your closest friends – they all have flaws and weaknesses of one kind or another. However, they are absolutely and completely believable – you know these people, or others like them – and that’s why the whole book seems so uncomfortable and close to home. 

Throughout the story runs the diary of a girl – when you find out how it’s linked to the story, fairly near the end, it turns the whole book upside down in a way that takes your breathe away. 

This is very, very clever writing – almost unbearable tension, characters you believe in, and a mesmerising real-life story. I absolutely loved it.

Tamar Cohen is a freelance journalist. A later starter to fiction (and to other things besides), The Broken is her fourth novel. She is a Writer in Residence at Kingston University and lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog.

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