The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

Publication date: August 217, Penguin – Michael Joseph

Source: Review copy via NetGalley

My rating: 4*

Blurb (Amazon)

None of them would forget that week on the wild Norfolk coast.

Best friends Rosie and Lisa’s families had always been inseparable.

But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband Nick.

And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter which exposes dark secrets.

Daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel.

Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer.

And Nick must confront his own version of events.

There are four sides to this story. Who will you believe?

My thoughts:

An excellent book about families, relationships, and the consequences of an affair! It looks at what happens when an affair becomes known, a marriage is over and the families’ friendship is destroyed.

It grabbed my attention right from the start with Daisy’s opening words:

Three is a good and safe number. I close my eyes and whisper the words three times so no one can hear. The sound like a sweet sigh. If Mum notices she might worry and the days of worry are over. I say this three times too, just to make triple sure, remembering how the words have to be spoken on the out breath.

Whatever Daisy says her days of worry are not over and her OCD goes into overdrive when she opens Lisa’s letter to Rosie. The novel is narrated in the present tense, often a bit of a stumbling block for me, but not so in this book, told from four different viewpoints – those of Daisy, her mother Rosie, father Nick and brother Max. Each one casts a different light on events and shows how easy it can be to interpret what happens in differing and often mistaken ways.

As I read the book I often couldn’t decide whose version to believe, especially when they were so contradictory. It explores the reliability of memory, the nature of mental illness and the devastation of friendships and family relationships through deceit and betrayal. What stood out for me was the portrayal of what it’s like to struggle with OCD and cancer. The book as a whole is an in-depth study of character and the terrible effects of suppressed memories and secrets. I loved it.

My thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a review copy.

First Chapter, First Paragraph: The Betrayals

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros to share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that she’s reading or planning to read soon. Diane is having a summer break at the moment, but I enjoy doing this meme anyway.

This week’s first paragraph is from The Betrayals by Fiona Neill, which was published on 10 August.

Daisy

Three is a good and safe number. I close my eyes and whisper the words three times so no one can hear. They sound like a sweet sigh. If Mum notices she might worry and the days of worry are over. I say this three times too, just to make triple sure, remembering how the words have to be spoken on the outbreath.

Blurb:

None of them would forget that week on the wild Norfolk coast.

Best friends Rosie and Lisa’s families had always been inseparable.

But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband Nick.

And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter which exposes dark secrets.

Daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel.

Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer.

And Nick must confront his own version of events.

There are four sides to this story. Who will you believe?

I was captivated from the beginning of this book right to the end. My review will follow shortly.