It’s such a pleasure to share my review of Home Truths by Tina Seskis, officially published today (1st December) for kindle, in paperback and as an audiobook by Lake Union Publishing. My thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy, provided via netgalley.
When Tina made contact – and it was so lovely to hear from her – asking if I’d like to read and review, it made me think how very much things have changed for us both over the years. When I read Tina’s first novel, One Step Too Far, way back in July 2013, she was struggling to get an agent and had just set up her own publishing company to make her books available. You’ll find my review here – but it was in the days when my reviews were rather shorter and considerably less detailed. And later that year, it was a delight to read and review her second, A Serpentine Affair (later republished, with a few editorial changes, as When We Were Friends), which I enjoyed even more – you’ll find that review here.
And all Tina’s efforts certainly paid off. The following year I was delighted to attend her publisher’s book launch – one of the very first I’d been invited to – when Penguin agreed that One Step Too Far was indeed “the book everyone’s going to be talking about”. Romance started to take over my reading list, and I sadly didn’t manage to read The Honeymoon – but hey, all those wonderful reviews, books in 18 languages in over 60 countries, and writing a screenplay with Lindsay Lohan really must have been the stuff of dreams! And I’m really so delighted to have rediscovered Tina’s writing with Home Truths…
A strong marriage can cope with the unexpected. But can it survive the unimaginable?
American nanny Eleanor was never meant to meet Alex. But when she walks into his London police station to report a stalker, everything changes for them both. He’s convinced he can protect her from anything and anyone. She hopes her darkest days are behind her.
As they settle into their life together, two hundred miles away another young couple faces an uncertain future. Christie knows Paul is a decent man, but she can’t shake a clairvoyant’s warning: ‘Never trust your husband . . .’ When a work trip tests their bond, will she overcome her fears for the sake of her family?
Ten years later, both couples are still together, for better or worse. But as doubts and resentments begin bubbling steadily to the surface, all four of them start to question the choices they’ve made.
At least the secrets they all brought into their marriages are still well hidden.
It’s not very often these days that I read a thriller, but I’m so pleased I chose to read this one. There’s a great deal about this book – the character development, the ins and outs of people’s daily lives, the complex relationships, the distinctive voices of its characters – that makes it appeal equally to a reader of women’s fiction. And my goodness, I really did enjoy it.
After the intriguing voice of the prologue, the book begins in the early 90s – as American nanny Eleanor meets eager policeman Alex when she reports her concerns about a stalker. Meanwhile, in what seems a quite separate story line, Christie struggles to trust husband Paul. The book follows their lives over several decades, as their lives and relationships develop and change – the two stories never converging, but expertly twisted around each other, recounted through the well-sustained distinctive voices and viewpoints of the four separate characters.
There are clearly hidden secrets, and the characters themselves are really satisfyingly complex – and the author very cleverly plays with the reader’s sympathies and levels of engagement with the characters as their stories unfold. There are small revelations (and a few surprises) along the way, but the tension cranks up steadily and inexorably as you become increasingly convinced that there’s more to these stories than you’re seeing on the surface.
This is a book where you can’t help trying to second guess the outcome, and whether there was any connection between the stories – at times I was convinced I’d sussed it out, but I was entirely on the wrong track. In fact, I followed the false leads repeatedly – and really enjoyed the experience. It finally plays out right at the very end – and although I’m usually not a fan of the jaw-dropping twist, it was totally unexpected but entirely believable, and exceptionally well handled.
If I do have a criticism (and it’s only a little one), I did find the book just a little wordy at the start – the style took a few chapters until I felt comfortable. But then I realised that I was halfway through – and that I was totally embroiled in the lives of the characters, the pages were turning faster and faster, and that I had a really tight knot of anticipation but really couldn’t put my finger on the cause. This was such clever writing, as the tension steadily mounted and you grew increasingly convinced that something was going to happen that would rock the foundations of the characters you felt you’d come to know so well.
I really enjoyed this one – and would most definitely recommend to others.
About the author
Tina Seskis is an international best selling author whose work has been optioned for TV.
Tina’s first novel, One Step Too Far, was released in 2013, and has since been published in 18 languages in over 60 countries. Home Truths is her fourth novel. Tina’s fifth novel, Hope Close, will be published in Spring 2020 (available for pre-order).
Tina grew up in Hampshire, before going off to study in the beautiful city of Bath and then moving to London, where she has lived on and off ever since. She started south of the river, but now lives in North London with her husband and son.