PublisherHodder Paperbacks
Date Published11 July 2019
Price£ 8.99


by Marianne Kavanagh

Sara lives in a beautiful isolated house with an irrational abusive husband and two sons, one off to university and one autistic. Serious events cause dramatic changes to her life but dog walker Katie is always there to protect her.


Sara, her husband, her two sons and her loud barking dog Bundle live behind high walls in the Old Rectory, a beautiful, isolated house cut off from the eyes of the rest of the village. This is how they like it. But Sara is lonely. One of her sons is off to university, and one is autistic. Her husband, a successful entrepreneur is spending increasing amounts of time away from home. Then he strains his back badly and become lost in a world of severe pain, and painkillers. In this state he becomes increasingly bullying and aggressive and life becomes unbearable.

Sara becomes increasingly dependent on Katie, her young dogwalker, to the extent that Katie even moves into the Old Rectory. This results in Sara deciding to become acquainted with the villagers and she starts to integrate into the life of the village.

This apparent new peace becomes rocked by devastating incidents in family life, Sara is optimistic that her life will get better and is supported solidly by Katie. However, her husband’s sister does not like Sara and raises challenges which rock Sara’s equanimity.

This book is really very well written. It is not a challenging read but rather an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. The characters are accessible and as the plot develops it is clear that although all is not as it appears to be, one is not certain quite what it is, or quite who it is, that is wrong. There is a strong sense of place and the atmosphere of a small rural community with its local gossip and well-intentioned need to know is clearly portrayed and juxtaposed against life in big, more anonymous, cities.

The end, when it comes, is not really surprising. It is one of the possible alternatives that I had thought of, but it is well-constructed and still leaves a few questions to ponder. Overall this is a satisfying read.

Reviewed 22 August 2020 by John Barnbrook