Published By: Pan Macmillan
Released On: 02/03/2023
Every morning Janet Brown goes to work cleaning offices. It calms her, cleanliness, neatness. All the things she’s unable to do with her soul can be achieved with a damp cloth and a splash of bleach. However, the guilt she still carries about a devastating loss that happened eleven years ago, cannot be erased.
Then, Janet finds herself involved in a train crash and, recognising the chance to do what she couldn’t all those years ago, she makes a decision. As news spreads of Janet’s actions, her story inspires everyone around her, and for the first time her life has purpose and the future is filled with hope.
But Janet’s story isn’t quite what it seems, and as events spiral out of control, she soon discovers that coming clean isn’t an option. Because if Janet washes away the lies, what long-buried truths will she finally have to face.
Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
This was my first Charlotte Levin book and I was expecting great things given the other reviews I’d read.
At first, I was a tad lost. I wasn’t quite sure it would be for me. But that doesn’t last long. Very quickly, things kick off and I was thoroughly swept up in it all.
I loved Janet. She’s a bit….unique, but I thought she lovely. Whereas Mary and Colin, I did not like. Always trying to be the main character, pushing Janet aside. They were well written, as were the likes of Mia and Molly etc. but Janet stole every scene. She’s a bit timid, insular, controlled, under-the-thumb, precise, organised, structured, lonely. But she has this power, this self belief, determination, honesty and strength that you can tell hasn’t been used for so long, it’s like she’s forgotten how to be that woman. There’s obviously something happening underneath that’s itching to get out.
I liked her description of grief and child loss that Janet goes through. It’s not overly mushy, or overly grim, but it’s this nice balance of reality. Always grieving but learning to move on, a balance that’s hard for anyone grieving to really explain.
I was impressed by Charlotte’s ability to merge happiness and sadness, laughter and tears, within the same paragraph.
It’s a thriller, but not a fast-paced one. It’s not all murder and chasing and fleeing and terror. It’s more slow paced. It feels claustrophobic sometimes, like you’re alongside Janet for the ride, unsure of where to turn or who to believe.
A style that’s more familiar to movies and TV shows, I like how she uses the weather to show the mood (otherwise known as pathetic fallacy). When Janet is sad or stressed, it rains. When she’s feeling perkier, the sun is shine and she’s hot. It’s not always easy to get across in a book but it’s well used here.
For me, this is definitely character focussed as opposed to plot, which I like. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a great storyline, but it’s her depictions of the characters and their emotions and relationships that shine for me.
When I first read it, I wasn’t sure if I liked the ending or not (I won’t give it away). It’s not all wrapped up neatly for you, there are things left to the reader’s discretion. You don’t feel shortchanged but you’re allowed to finish the story.
It’s definitely a good book to start with if you haven’t read her before.