1955: In a cramped apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers, unable to reveal the truth about their relationship. They guard their private lives fiercely – until someone guesses their secret.
1975: Twenty years on, in the same apartment, Ava Winters is desperately trying to conceal her mother’s fragile mental state from the critical eyes of their neighbours. But, one sweltering July morning, Ava’s mother escapes.
Alone after her mother’s departure, Ava takes delivery of a parcel. The box is addressed only to ‘Apartment 3B’, and contains a photograph of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across her face.
Seeking refuge from her own crisis, Ava determines to track the owner of the photograph down. And, in so doing, discovers a shocking chain of kindnesses, lies and betrayals – with one woman at the centre of it all…
Thank you to the publishers, Penguin, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
As soon as I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I was so drawn in by the idea of this parcel turning up on a doorstep, and a journey of finding out was in the photograph…
And this book definitely didn’t let me down. I picked up the audiobook, which I really enjoyed and would definitely recommend if this one appeals to you. I really liked the multiple points of view in this book and the way it flicked between time periods in the same apartment. I find sometimes with multiple POV, I end up being more invested in one character than another, and although I did prefer reading about Dovie and Gillian more, I still found myself invested in Ava’s story. Ava was the only part of the story that let it down slightly though, and I did find her voice to be a tad immature in comparison to the rest of the book.
It’s difficult to define the exact genre of this book – thriller seems too harsh, but is probably the closest. It’s more like a historical thriller with an edge of tragedy which courses through the story and feels inevitable from the very beginning, but also had a great New York atmosphere that I loved. The characters are such a big focus of this book but don’t take away from the plot or the pacing, instead making it easy to sympathise with and follow their stories. I was left feeling emotional as I learned more about their backgrounds and lives.
This is more gentle than a thriller, more atmospheric than a historical, and more character-driven than a mystery. It is many things rolled into one, but I enjoyed it all the same.
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽