Friday, November 4, 2022

Sarah Alderson - The Weekend Away

Miles from home. Trust no one. Suspect everyone.
Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.
This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?
But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

Comment: I got interested in this book because the setting is in Lisbon. Although it's not where I live, it's the capital of my country and I felt curious enough to want to see how a foreign author would use the setting of the city for this novel.

In this thriller/mystery we meet friends Kate and Orla, they often travel together but since Orla became a mother they haven't had much time to do it until now and they booked a weekend trip to Lisbon. However, Orla is more interested in the relaxing and sightseeing part of the trip while Kate, always the more daring of the two, wants to enjoy night life and adventure. Things get to a point of no return when that first night they go to a bar after dinner and meet two gorgeous men and Kate invites them to go back to their rented apartment. Although Orla doesn't want anything to do with this, she can't stop Kate and when they arrive Orla isn't feeling well, going to sleep instead. The morning after, Kate isn't home and doesn't pick up the phone, which worries Orla. With the help of the UBER driver who too them to the bar the night before, Orla decides to look for her friend, but as clues start coming in, Orla realizes something bigger is going on...

Well, this an interesting book, in the good sense of the word. The characters are opposite in personality so that makes for a nice contrast from the start, and the fact we only have Orla as the narrator obviously makes us connect more easily with her. The situations they go through are realistic enough and having traveled with others, it's true it's impossible for everyone to be in the same page all the time, some people want/like more something and the other person prefers something else. I think this vibe was well portrayed by the author.

Despite that and this being actually a good story with good bones, I think that those moments between chapters or scenes weren't written in the best way. Sometimes it feels as if things are choppy, or described with too many coincidences, and I confess there were times I wasn't very convinced of how the characters were able to go from one point to the next the way the author devised. 

The characters were intriguing, especially Orla and I must say at some point I wondered if she was one of those unreliable narrators but I suppose I just let my imagination go too easily... in fact, Orla was just in the middle of a much more complex situation than she anticipated. I think the base of the story was quite clever, if not very original, but the way things happened was filled with wrong moves and unlikely possibilities, so when we start having the big picture we get to understand the author's plans and the main idea is actually a good one.

But the intention here is to provide mystery and lack of trust in some things, we keep being told Kate disappeared because someone did something to her and at some point we start thinking perhaps Kate went on her own... most times, these doubts help the plot advance but I must say that the coincidences that often happen made me like some scenes less. The weird apartment owner and how he helps Orla after the rent period is over, then the convenient Uber driver, whom we learn can be quite shady - or isn't so? - and also Kate's soon to be ex... all these characters clearly play a role but something about their actions just doesn't seem logical or believable here and there.

I think the author wanted the story to have a certain tone and for the most part, she achieved it, but I think she could have sequenced some scenes much better. 
As for the setting, what really motivated me, I think there are enough details to make this story obviously set in this city (as opposed to any generic one) but I wish more importance had been given to the location. I liked the author used enough correct words in the language - this is very sporadic, no worries for those who don't understand it - and cultural aspects, although some negative ones which characterized the plot kind of disappointed me, of course. We always want the impression to be a positive one.
In fact it's a pity the movie adapted from this novel is set in a different country...

All things considered, this was entertaining, offered enough twists and content to make it readable but between writing style and structure of the plot, I think it could have been better too.
Grade: 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment