What She Left by Rosie Fiore ** Blog Tour Review & Extract **
I'm delighted to welcome you today to the celebrations for Rosie Fiore's novel, What She Left. You can also read an extract from the novel. Before you do, here's a taster of what the story is all about.
But then one day, it really is Helen's face he sees..
Over to Rosie who introduces the extract:
Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She's beautiful, accomplished, organised - the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.
But Helen wasn't abducted or murdered. She's chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home.
Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life.
He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He's losing control.
Over to Rosie who introduces the extract:
This is the opening of What She Left – it is our first glimpse of Helen, who will be missing, both physically and in terms of telling her side of the story, for much of the book. I hope it has some tantalising clues to her character, and to her disappearance.
Helen brushed her hair and smoothed it away from her face, then used a hair tie to secure it. She combed the length of the ponytail until it lay smooth and shiny over her shoulder, split the hair into sections and plaited it neatly. She checked her reflection: light eye-make-up and a becoming, pale pink lip-gloss. She went into the bedroom, where she had laid her dress out on the bed, a cotton maxi-dress, covered in big blue flowers. She slipped it over her head and slid her feet into flat white pumps. A spritz of her citrusy perfume and she was ready to go.
She went down to the kitchen. She’d cleaned up after breakfast, before she’d taken the girls to school. To an outsider, the kitchen would have appeared spotless, but Helen picked up a cloth and wiped quickly at a tiny smear on the otherwise pristine worktop. The washing machine hummed quietly, but other than that, the house was silent.
In the living room, her handbag, a large, soft leather one which matched the blue of the flowers of her dress, sat on the coffee table. She’d packed it carefully, as usual, but she checked through its contents one more time. Looking out of the window, she saw their next-door neighbour, Mrs Goode, leaving her house, Sainsbury’s Bags for Life in hand.
Helen glanced around the living room, then took a quick tour round the downstairs to check that all the doors and windows were securely fastened before picking up her handbag and stepping out of her own front door. As she locked the door, she called a cheery greeting to Mrs Goode, who was standing in her driveway, clearly waiting for a lift. Mrs Goode waved back, and Helen, dropping her key into her bag, headed off up the road on foot.
As was her habit, she set off at a brisk, focused pace. She imagined Mrs Goode watching her. She didn’t look back. She walked quickly to the end of their quiet road, turned the corner, and disappeared.
I found this to be such an enjoyable read, with a variety of believable characters, all with their own stories. The story really focuses on the devastation left behind in Sam's family and the ripple effect Helen's disappearance causes in people's lives. I can't talk too much about Helen without major plot spoilers of course, but her absence causes huge disruption and heartache for Sam and his family.
Told from the perspective of different characters, you get to see certain events from different points of view, I particularly enjoyed the parts where you got to see what Sam's daughters were feeling as they tried to process losing a second mother figure. There are lots of well observed details about the social politics of the school gate and the pressures of trying to fit in. You also get to glimpse the relationships within Sam's family - his parents and younger brother- who do their best to support him. Sam of course is very difficult to like at times. He is certainly not a straightforward character and the more you find out about him, the harder it is to give him the sympathy his plight deserves. It is a testament to Rosie Fiore's writing that you do still care about what happens to him at the end, despite everything you learn.
In short: a compelling read and characters who stay with you after the end of the book.
About the Author:
Rosie Fiore was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa.She studied drama at the University of the Witwatersrand and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazines, advertising, comedy and the corporate market.
Her first two novels, This Year's Black and Lame Angel were published by Struik in South Africa. This Year's Black was longlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Award and has subsequently been re-released as an e-book. Babies in Waiting, Wonder Women and Holly at Christmas were published by Quercus. She is the author of After Isabella, also published by Allen & Unwin.
Rosie’s next book, The After Wife (written as Cass Hunter), will be published by Trapeze in 2018, and in translation is seven countries around the world.
Rosie lives in London with her husband and two sons.
Thanks to Rosie and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.