Published By: Hodder and Stoughton
Released On: 23/03/2023
You want to be just like her. But do you really know her?
Rani has always felt like an outsider. First growing up among her white, wealthy peers. And now next to her successful, child-free friends. From the tiny rented flat she lives in with her family, she imagines being the kind of woman who owns the beautiful house across the street.
Then Natalie moves in. With her expensive clothes, adoring husband and high-powered job, she has everything Rani wants, and Rani can’t help but be drawn to her new neighbour.
But as the two women strike up a friendship and begin open up, Rani wonders – is Natalie’s perfect-seeming life too good to be true?
Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
Twitter has been absolutely awash with this book so I jumped at the chance to read an early copy of it. I had heard nothing but praise so I was excited. And boy did it live up to the praise.
For a debut to have this much attention pre-publication…well, she has to be doing something right.
There’s a number of characters but it’s Rani and Natalie that steal the show. I felt a kinship with Rani at first, yes she’s an Indian mum to two little girls, and I am not, but she was nearly 30 (as am I) unemployed (as am I) and grieving a parent to cancer (as am I). It shows that these themes can transcend ethnicity, education, social position.
I found it interesting that you’ve got Rani, who is down on her luck and wants to better herself, who is jealous of the rich couple over the world, and then Natalie, who seemingly has it all but yearns for the simple life. I loved this contrast in characters, they worked so well against each other.
Rani is an interesting character. At first she’s a bit put out, bored of being a stay-at-home mum, wanting more out of her life. And then Natalie has it all, the husband, the job, the car, the looks, the clothes, and yet she also wants more out of her life. There’s definitely more similarities between the two women than you first think. Their husbands, Joel and Charles, are great foils too. One good, one evil, perfectly balanced,
It’s like an eerie game of pass the parcel, you keep removing layers, discovering too late that not everything is as it seems. You’re desperate, in equal measures, to keep going and find out what is at the centre, but also to replace the paper, cover it all up and start again.
It is all encompassing. If you do pick this book up, I advise doing it on a day you have nothing else on, as once you’ve started you won’t want to stop.
It’s a proper exciting, dark psychological thriller. It’s full of twists and turns and surprises. It has a slow buildup – and by that I don’t mean boring – but it’s slow, controlled, biding it’s time. It sucks you in, and then by the time it all kicks off, you’re too invested to stop.
I admit I would have liked the ending to have been stretched out a bit more. I felt, for about 95% of the book you’re on this fabulous, fast paced, heart pounding race, and then suddenly everything comes clean and it’s finished. It’s not a bad ending at all, but I want more. Her writing is so good that I feel THAT scene (you’ll know what I mean when you read it) could have had more. But that’s just because I’m greedy and want to read more.
It touches on some important factors but without shoving them down your throat. It celebrates the imports of friendship, even during dark times. It looks at race and identity, as well as mental illness and controlling behaviour, which I think is handled very well. It doesn’t show us the stereotype of domestic abuse – not in the physical sense anyway – but we get this feeling of being worn down, of gaslighting.
It is a great first book and I can’t wait to see what she offers next.