Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Elizabeth Haynes - Never Alone

Sarah Carpenter lives in an isolated farmhouse in North Yorkshire and for the first time, after the death of her husband some years ago and her children, Louis and Kitty, leaving for university, she’s living alone. But she doesn’t consider herself lonely. She has two dogs, a wide network of friends and the support of her best friend, Sophie.
When an old acquaintance, Aiden Beck, needs somewhere to stay for a while, Sarah’s cottage seems ideal; and renewing her relationship with Aiden gives her a reason to smile again. It’s supposed to be temporary, but not everyone is comfortable with the arrangement: her children are wary of his motives, and Will Brewer, an old friend of her son’s, seems to have taken it upon himself to check up on Sarah at every opportunity. Even Sophie has grown remote and distant.
After Sophie disappears, it’s clear she hasn’t been entirely honest with anyone, including Will, who seems more concerned for Sarah’s safety than anyone else. As the weather closes in, events take a dramatic turn and Kitty too goes missing. Suddenly Sarah finds herself in terrible danger, unsure of who she can still trust.
But she isn’t facing this alone; she has Aiden, and Aiden offers the protection that Sarah needs. Doesn’t he?

Comment: This is yet another book by this author I intended to read. Her thrillers are well thought and well structured (most of the time) and they always have characters that are somewhat easy to empathize with so I was looking for to read this story.

In this book we meet Sarah Carpenter, a widow who lives in her rural cottage and spends her days trying to do some work in her children's books while missing her children, one who barely speaks to her after the death of their father and the other who's in college.
A problem Sarah has is money and in order to reduce the debts her husband left, she accepts an old college friend as a rental even though he was actually someone she loved back in the day and doesn't feel how to face nowadays.
Sarah has her friend Sophie but she can't share some things with her regarding her past and after both Aiden, her new rental, and Will, a guy her son's age, return to the village, things start to become weird and both guys, even when it comes to Sophie. The guys also tend to show up unannounced in her cottage and she asks them not to but can Sarah expect things to change when she doesn't do it herself?

I think this book isn't as much a thriller in the sense whatever is going to happen might surprise you because it's unexpected or out of nowhere but mainly due to the character's attitudes and sense of guilt. It's quite something, in fact, to let your imagination and your thoughts get the best of you and even though there is a character in the novel who does act as stalker and is clearly not fully cognizant of their issues, I'd say the biggest enemy in the book is the fact people don't want to act, they don't want to face their problems and we prefer to ignore until it's not possible.

The machinations of the villain, if we can the character so, aren't always dangerous but they are intrusive and disturbing. This could have been easily solved by the main character but it's not because of what she doesn't feel like doing and because of what she keeps thinking she shouldn't have done in her past. Guilt and regret can be quite steady companions in people's lives and what made me think the most about this book is precisely that: how we let ourselves live and re-live some things on and on and that affects our judgment and sometimes out next choices. It's complicated but in this case, Sarah doesn't change her attitude on time because f how she feels.
Like another reader said in a review I checked, Sarah doesn't feel like reacting, she lets things develop as they are instead of solving them immediately and that happens with her relationship with others. But without this, the story wouldn't be as troublesome.

However, there are some things that don't feel very well done because of the way they are presented. It's quite obvious in some situations that some things can only happen with a lot of circumstantial coincidence. The plot really wouldn't last that long if not for a bit of inertia, actually. 
This means the story only goes as it does because we are told about secrets the characters have and why someone else shouldn't know about them and so on. I liked reading the book for this challenge, to understand the motivation the characters had to need to behave a certain way.

When I turned the last page, I thought the villain was not really a villain, just someone misunderstood, who was not taken care of and went a malicious path but his actions were very wrong and I accept how the author "solved" things. As for Sarah, our heroine, I can't tell if her path had a good resolution but at least she had possibilities. 
I wouldn't say this has the best plot ever butt he psychological side of things and the entertaining value made it a good story, in general, to have been read.
Grade: 7/10

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