Close to Me

Written by Amanda Reynolds

Review written by Keith Miles

Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com


Close to Me
Headline/Wildfire
RRP: £7.99
Released: July 27, 2017
Pbk Original

After a tumble downstairs, Jo Harding suffers from partial amnesia and vital events in her life are erased from her memory. Did she fall or was she pushed? It’s a question that obsesses her.

Rob, her husband, is a manipulative control freak. They have a bright daughter, Sasha, who has a degree, a flat and a job; and a gay son, Fin, who has just started his university career. At a time when she needs to concentrate on herself, Jo is alarmed to meet Sasha’s dreadful new boyfriend, Thomas, a thoroughly unpleasant bartender several years older than the girl. News of Sasha’s daughter’s pregnancy causes her mother even more alarm because she believes that Thomas will not be a suitable father. To complicate matters, there’s the problem of Jo’s close relationship with Nick, who runs the drop-in centre where she works.  

Given the fact that the marriage is clearly unhappy, it’s a wonder that it’s lasted twenty-four years and that they still make love occasionally, though with little enthusiasm on Jo’s part. As she racks her brains in a vain attempt at dragging up crucial memories, Rob seems happy enough with the situation. He has his own private life sorted out.

Close to Me is a taut psychological drama that shifts back and forth in time, contrasting life before and after the fall. It is best read in long stretches or you’ll quickly lose track of the chronology. Since it delves so often into the past, the present tense narrative seems out of place at times.

The novel treats an important subject with sensitivity. What happens when major events in your life are suddenly wiped from your mind? How do you cope with the fear that it might have been your husband who caused the accident? In the grip of mental and emotional turmoil, Jo is painfully vulnerable. Everyone seems to know things that she doesn’t. All that she can do is to react to events and, when she’s had too much to drink, she doesn’t always do so wisely. When she lets another man close to her, there’s always a nagging guilt.

Amanda Reynolds has given us an intriguing, well-told, tightly-knit story that will hold you to the last page and make you put one hand on the banister whenever you’re at the top of the stairs.



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