#BookReview Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Greenwich ParkAbout the Book

Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…

Format: Paperback (448 pages)    Publisher: Raven
Publication date: 1st March 2022 Genre: Thriller

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My Review

In this debut novel, the author has combined all the elements you’d expect from a psychological thriller: an intriguing prologue, multiple points of view, some time shifts and an ocean full of red herrings. Okay, there are some points that stretch credulity but the short chapters and engrossing plot keep you turning the pages despite that.

The story is told mostly through the eyes of Helen, with occasional chapters from the point of view of her sister-in-law Serena, and Katie, the girlfriend of Helen’s brother. Poor Helen comes across as extremely naive and easily manipulated, her concern about her pregnancy clouding her eyes to what’s going on around her, especially when it comes to her husband, Daniel.  You won’t be surprised to learn that not everyone is quite what they seem and people presented as ‘perfect’ are often just the opposite. Katie was the character who seemed to have her feet most firmly on the ground using her journalistic skills to try to discover what exactly what was going on, not just what was being presented to her.

Although I guessed some of the plot twists, I’ll confess I didn’t guess them all and the author throws in some clever deflections, false trails and a killer final sentence.

This was a book club pick and all the members agreed this was a well-crafted thriller that would make a great beach read, would be perfect as a Sunday night television drama but probably wouldn’t be a book they’d pick up and read again.

In three words: Compelling, fast-paced, twisty

Try something similar: The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas

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Katherine FaulknerAbout the Author

Katherine is a novelist and journalist. After studying history at Cambridge, she completed a postgraduate diploma in journalism, and has spent a decade working for national newspapers. She has worked as an investigative reporter and won the Cudlipp Award for public interest journalism for her undercover work.  She is now the Head of News Projects for the Sunday Times. She lives in north London with her husband and two daughters. (Photo: Goodreads author page)

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#BookReview The Honey and the Sting by E.C. Fremantle @MichaelJBooks

9780718180508About the Book

Three sisters. Three secrets. Three ways to fall…

England, 1628. Forcibly seduced by the powerful George Villiers, doctor’s daughter Hester is cast aside to raise her son alone and in secret. She hopes never to see Villiers again. Melis’s visions cause disquiet and talk. She sees what other’s can’t – and what has yet to be. She’d be denounced as a witch if Hester wasn’t so carefully protective. Young Hope’s beauty marks her out, drawing unwelcome attention to the family. Yet she cannot always resist others’ advances. And her sisters cannot always be on their guard.

When Villiers decides to claim his son against Hester’s wishes, the sisters find themselves almost friendless and at his mercy. But the women hold a grave secret. The question is, will what they know be their undoing or their salvation? Because in the right hands, a secret is the deadliest weapon of all…

Format: Hardcover (368 pages)       Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 6th August 2020 Genre: Historical fiction

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My Review

When George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, tries to claim his illegitimate son Rafe from Hester, the young woman he seduced, she and her younger sisters, Hope and Melis, are forced to flee their home and seek safety in a remote house in Shropshire owned by a loyal family friend. It has to be said the group make rather poor fugitives, risking discovery on their journey by discarding their disguises, drawing unnecessary attention to themselves and through Hope’s dangerous naivety.

The story is told in the first person by Hester and in the third person from the point of view of Hope. The thoughts of Melis and the nature of her strange visions and glimpses of the future, remain unknown to the reader making her all the more enigmatic a character.  Her affinity with bees and her keen sense of the presence of danger her sisters would do well to heed.

It becomes clear that Hester has underestimated George Villiers’ determination to possess whatever he desires or the lengths to which he will go to remove the hold she has over him, a secret which could bring about his downfall. When the name of the individual he engages to remove the threat the sisters pose is revealed, those with any knowledge of the history of the period are likely to be as intrigued as me. From this point on, the way the author blends fiction with fact is imaginative and completely compelling.

As the reader discovers, there are more ways to defeat an enemy than may be supposed. “The bees know it – honey and sting – sweetness and sharpness. That is what you need.”

The Honey and the Sting is the third book I’ve read by Elizabeth Fremantle. Although not quite my favourite (that accolade would go to The Poison Bed), it is still an absorbing story that demonstrates the power of maternal love and women’s ability to determine their own futures, with just a touch of the supernatural. (You can read my reviews of The Girl in the Glass Tower and The Poison Bed by following the links from the titles.)

My thanks to Michael Joseph for my advance review copy of The Honey and the Sting via NetGalley.

In three words: Intriguing, imaginative, mystery

Try something similar: Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory

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3k3wyu0L_400x400About the Author

E.C. Fremantle is the critically acclaimed author of The Poison Bed, ‘an electrifying, brilliantly executed thriller,’ and a Times Book of the Year. As Elizabeth Fremantle she has published four Tudor and Elizabethan set novels: Queen’s Gambit, Sisters of Treason, Watch the Lady and The Girl in the Glass Tower. She has contributed to various publications including The Sunday Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. She lives in London.

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