Thursday, 3 December 2015

Review: Too Close to Home by Susan Lewis

Sometimes the truth lies closer than you think. The compelling and heart-rending new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors.

Jenna and Jack Moore have moved their family to Wales for a fresh start. For vivacious, happy-go-lucky fifteen-year-old Paige the future is full of promise.

But suddenly everything changes. Paige becomes more and more withdrawn. The closeness she once shared with her mother a distant memory.

It then becomes clear that Jack has secrets too. Preoccupied with her younger children, her husband’s fidelity and their fledgling publishing company, Jenna doesn’t realise the extent of her eldest daughter’s unhappiness until the unthinkable happens.

And the nightmare is only just beginning…

Paperback, 512 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2015 by Ballantine Books (first published February 26th 2015)
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Ballantine Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Susan Lewis is not a new author to me. I have had the privilege of reading some of her other work. Too Close to Home was what I would classify as a sweeping family drama. There were multiple things going on with multiple characters within the family that inevitably created or added to one enormous issue that impacted all of them as a whole. There were many issues touched upon in this book with most of them being quite serious. From infidelity and fraud to bullying and suicide, the story was chalked full of relevant topics.

With so many issues, you would think that it would make the story too busy but that was not the case. In fact, I found it was a little slow to take off and catch my interest. This was also something I noticed in some of her previous work. It alternated between Jenna's story and her struggling marriage and Paige's story and the bullying she was receiving at school and on social media. Although both mother and daughter had a lot going on, I found myself drawn more to Paige and the bullying. Perhaps it was because I have daughters her age and I can total relate to the era of social media as it relates to them.

As far as the characters went, my thoughts were all over the place and I struggled a little bit. Jenna did some things that I didn't necessarily approve of. First of all, I found her to be quite naive when it came to Jack. She agreed to a huge move to start a new business that she did not understand at all. Yes she knew the creative side but nothing about the financial and I couldn't grasp that. Also, there were so many questionable moments that I found myself shaking my head at her. What really got me though were some of the things that she said to the kids when Jack left. I understand she was hurting and angry (she had every right to be) but I never approve of pitting one parent against the other. It only serves to hurts the children.

Paige was painted as a strong/smart character but I have to strongly disagree. She was struggling with the extreme bullying that was directed at her and even though she knew what steps she should take, she didn't. She also befriended a person on the Internet with whom she did not know. These situations show naivety and immaturity. She certainly would not be a roll model.

I could go on about things that irritated me about the characters but it was in fact these qualities that made the story what it was. The story could not have happened without those characters flaws. Although I had mixed feelings about the characters I enjoyed the book once I got past the slow beginning. It was a story of one complicated family and the struggles that they had to overcome in order to regain their happy life and family.


About the Author

When I was 18 I got a job at HTV in Bristol, and at 22 I moved to London to work for Thames. I began as a secretary in news and current affairs, then trained as a production assistant and moved on to light entertainment and drama. It was a love of drama, combined with a fierce ambition, that got me knocking on the Controller’s door to ask what steps to take to become a producer. “Oh, go away and write something,” came the reply. So I did.

23 books later, my only regret is that none of them have yet made it to the screen. I left TV eighteen years ago to do the “novelist thing” of buying a house with a swimming pool in the South of France. Bliss! For the first summer! After that came a disastrous love affair with one of the FBI’s most wanted, the plunge of the pound, and the dawning realization that life full-time in France was very, very different to a two week holiday frolicking around on millionaire’s yachts on the sunny Riviera. Sure it was glamorous, and the yachts – along with the interesting people – all came back in the summer, but the endless months in between were not far short of hell.

So, off to sunny California and Hollywood. After equipping myself with a Mercedes estate for my beloved dogs Casanova and Floozie, a home in the hills complete with pool and perfect sunsets every night, I set about completing the obstacle course of cowboy agents, big-talking producers and wannabe directors. Once I realised that Hollywood was NOT waiting for me, I put the struggle behind me and from thereon life in Tinsel Town became just plain thrilling. From star-studded screenings and glitzy parties, to moonlit dinners on the beach and edgy nightclubs, it was the perfect town to be single. George Clooney was my neighbour, Jennifer Anniston, Charlize Theron and Julianne Moore shopped in the same places, Nick Cage was a guest at my house, and Steve Martin was a regular on our dog walks. Romances flourished and faded, some dreams came true and others were crushed.

After seven happy years of taking the best from Hollywood and avoiding the rest, I had to face up to the fact that I was losing touch with being English. I needed a fix of my own country, so once again my dogs and I were on the move. We returned to Wiltshire for two years where making the adjustment from Manolo Blahniks to Wellies, cocktails at sunset to nights in by the fire, and no more glittery invites to liven up the mail proved too crushing for a still young and lively spirit. 

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