Book Review: The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

The Cliff HouseAbout the Book

Some friendships are made to be broken.

Cornwall, summer of 1986.   The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.

If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.  If only her life was as perfect as theirs.  If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.

If only she lived at The Cliff House…

Format:  ebook, hardcover (384 pp.)    Publisher: HQ
Published: 17th May 2018                        Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller

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Find The Cliff House on Goodreads

My Review

Sixteen year-old Tamsyn’s obsession with The Cliff House, and the family who use it as their weekend haunt, is rooted in the precious memories she has of illicit visits there with her beloved father on their frequent cliff-top walks.  The Cliff House has come to embody everything Tamsyn believes she desires, filling the gaps she feels in her life and the sense of displacement from other people, even her loving mother and brother.  ‘But here, at The Cliff House, the colours were exaggerated, the light brighter, the smells, tastes and sounds richer.’  However, it’s an ideal of perfection that the reader feels is likely to be disappointed.

When an opportunity does arise for Tamsyn to get closer to achieving her desire, it sets off a chain of events that will have unimaginable and unintended consequences for those around her.  Along the way, using multiple points of view, the book explores themes of class, of rich and poor, the impact on rural communities of economic decline, and of bereavement, loss and grief.  It also explores the idea that what’s on the surface and what lies beneath may be very different things.  The Davenports seem to have it all – but do they?   As Tamsyn’s mother, Angie warns, “They’re different.  To us.”

Throughout the book there is a brooding sense of emotional turmoil and impending tragedy, like a great storm approaching from out at sea.  It’s something Tamsyn herself senses: in her nightmares that border on visions; in the evil she imagines emanating from the ravens perched on the roof of The Cliff House (echoes of Daphne du Maurier’s ‘The Birds’ here).  The final scenes of the book play out on the sun-drenched terrace of The Cliff House like the stage of some Shakespearean tragedy, with events building to a dramatic and devastating climax.

The Cliff House is a compelling picture of obsession and desire born out of loss and grief and a great summer read.

You can read my review here of Amanda Jennings talking about her book (along with Claire Dyer, author of The Last Day) at Waterstones Reading on 24th May 2018.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, HQ, and NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Atmospheric, intense, compelling

Try something similar…The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase (click here to read my review)

Amanda JenningsAbout the Author

Amanda is mother to three daughters and lives in chaotic contentment just outside Henley-on-Thames with a houseful of pets and a husband. She is the author of three books, Sworn Secret, The Judas Scar and In Her Wake. Her fourth novel, The Cliff House, another psychological thriller set in West Cornwall, was published in May 2018.

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