Getting ready for the weekend? I have something for you…
My biggest thanks to Bookouture and Kim Nash for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this book and for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Woman at 46 Heath Street
Date of publication: 28.03.2019
Number of pages: 280
The letter is addressed to me. No stamp, swirly handwriting in black ink. I pull out a piece of paper, stiffening when I read the message. Hands trembling, the note slides to the floor: Your husband is having an affair.
Six words written in neat block letters. Six words slipped through her letterbox, destroying her marriage, exposing Ella’s perfect life as perfect lies.
But Ella has a plan: Alice is the answer to her problems. A lodger, to help keep her afloat, a friend, to keep the loneliness at bay.
Only Alice has her own reasons for wanting to live at 46 Heath Street…
Six words to define a novel.
Six words capturing the essence of an author’s work, exposing the skillful ability to hook a reader from the first page.
But I need more than six words to put my thoughts in order and pretend I am able to convey the beauty behind The Woman at 46 Heath Street.
Only the author has stolen my thoughts, leaving me staring through the window as I beg words to appear to me.
The Woman at 46 Heath Street. Interesting title. So, there will be a woman. And a house, apparently. With this in mind, I entered Ella’s world. Little did I know then that there would be so much more than the story of a woman and her place. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect, and that’s how I prefer my books to be!
There are two schools when it comes to prologues. I don’t mind them. Usually, they are good enough to intrigue me, to make me sit tighter on the couch and forget the pizza in the oven. The Woman at 46 Heath Street has a prologue. There, you’ve been warned. BUT. Don’t make the mistake to assume it is another of those cryptic and useless pages which make you roll your eyes and wonder why authors and editors think it is a good idea. In this case, each word of the prologue felt like candy, and I was the kid in need of yummy sugar. I ate it all, carefully, as if licking my fingers after every sentence. Somehow lyrical and heavy with meaning, this short introduction told me I would not leave the book alone until I had figured out the who and why. Different from a prologue in crime fiction, this taste of what was to come made me delirious with the urge to dive into the dark domestic tale I had chosen as my next read.
Don’t you love this moment when life crashes down around someone and you watch it all unfold, almost in slow motion? (I am not sadistic, I just really like exploring all life scenarios with no risks hanging over my own life!) You can see the cracks appear, grow, and then explode in a resounding explosion. When Ella discovers a note saying her husband is unfaithful, I spotted the first lines in the walls… Minutes later, the water overwhelmed everything like a tsunami destroying all she’d built, and Ella’s life vanished from under her feet. I won’t lie, I enjoy those moments tremendously. Call it a cathartic thing, or whatever, but I can’t escape the feelings overcoming my own life for a few moments, cutting me from the real world. Now, there’s a good dramatic scene and The dramatic scene with a big T. Lesley Sanderson blew my mind away by making me care and take side with a woman in a matter of pages.
What stands out the most in this novel is the characters created by the author. Ella, her husband Chris, the shadow of Nancy, Alice, her neighbour. If you think a nice house in London and a seemingly safe life is the key to everything, think again. Ella thought her hardest years were behind her. A tough upbringing had left scars and yes, I did find her needy. But I couldn’t blame her. Holding on to what had made her happy for the first time – a man and a house – was her way to keep her head over the water threatening to engulf her. Very quickly, the title reveals itself to the reader: the house is not a house. It is a character, with a personality, knowing eyes and bruised walls. It is a breathing witness of the passing of time. So when Chris wants Ella out, she refuses. I would have done the same! And what best than to stay afloat with the help of a lodger? Friendly and warm Alice, ready to listen to Ella’s stories and struggles. Very early on, I felt something was wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Was Ella too extreme in her reactions? What was in Chris’s head to put his wife in such an awful situation with no warning sign? I could hear the house whisper but I didn’t hold the cards to understand. Without the bigger picture, I was a slave to Lesley Sanderson’s brilliant writing.
Lies, deceipt, pain, obsession, you name it. My favourite is definitely obsession. Not only over the house itself. We all have something spurring us to react, and before we can measure the consequences of our acts, we fall into a downward spiral. I plead guilty. I was obsessed with this book! I was consumed by the need to grab a shovel and dig, I wanted to get my hands dirty and set free all truths. Oh, I was simply passionate! So passionate I didn’t want it to end. Would the ending live up to my expectations? Would it be good enough for me to find the strength to say goodbye to Ella?
Enthralling. Stunning. Rooted. ‘Leave me alone I’m reading, I swear I’m gonna hit you with the remote control if you interrupt me again’ good. Tragically real. Intense.
I love every minute of it!
Find out more about this riveting read by following the book on tour!
And get your copy to visit the place!
The Orchid Girls is her first psychological thriller.
Lesley spends her days writing in coffee shops in Kings Cross where she lives and works as a librarian. She loves the atmosphere and eclectic mix of people in the area. Lesley discovered Patricia Highsmith as a teenager and has been hooked on psychological thrillers ever since. She is particularly interested in the psychology of female relationships.