You Can Trust Me

Written by Emma Rowley

Review written by Judith Sullivan

Judith Sullivan is a writer in Leeds, originally from Baltimore. She is working on a crime series set in Paris. Fluent in French, she’s pretty good with English and has conversational Italian and German. She is working to develop her Yorkshire speak.

You Can Trust Me
Orion Publishing
RRP: £8.99
Released: September 3 2020

This is one of those “argh, how do I review this without spoilers?” books. Emma Rowley really does give us a page-turner and I do want to recommend it without ruining it. So, I’ve set up a tightrope and donned my ballet slippers.

Nicky Wilson is a ghost-writer of those celebrity warts-and-all books you gift the aunt/cousin/colleague whose tastes you don’t really know. You buy these in the full knowledge the recipient will soon dispatch the book to the closest charity shop. Nicky seems thirty-something-ish, permanently broke, a no love-life, latter-day Bridget Jones with a laptop. Her agency has hired her out to pen an “autobiography” of Olivia Vane Hayes. Dubbed the Coupon Queen, Hayes is a glamorous thirty-something mother of one, fashionista and so-called influencer. Nicky knows how silly it all is, as do we the readers. But she needs the fees the gig will pay.

Nicky travels from London up Cheshire-way to the family home Olivia now lives in with daughter Bea and husband Josh Hayes. Annersley House is Olivia’s ancestral, built literally on the ashes of the home Olivia grew up in, which burned down in 1997.

We the readers are expecting a game of cat and mouse between shlubby interviewer and super-chic interviewee, with one or the other woman letting out secrets better left dormant. But the tag-game quickly turns dangerous. As she researches Olivia, Nicky increasingly suspects there are some noisy skeletons rattling around behind the Valentino dresses. She presses the locals familiar with the events around the fire and looks up the circumstances online. Olivia’s father died in the blaze but the origin of the fire remains mysterious and Olivia slams her lip-sticked mouth shut every time Nicky raises the issue.

As she prods and probes, Nicky also senses (correctly) that all is far from well in the Hayes menage. The couple’s friend Sabrina is very close to the spouses and maybe a bit too close to Josh. Husband and wife rarely chat while little Bea is a reserved child.

Olivia senses Nicky’s fascination with her life and takes a very long time to agree to a conversation about the fire; slowly, she opens up.

And all appears fine - until Nicky vanishes off the face of the earth.

And there recounting the plot must end.

Apart from a few taps of implausibility; Nicky seems to have no friends, for one, this novel is a corker in the Gone Girl mode. We get both women’s voices and takes on the events that unfold in the brisk 350-page novel. You can trust me gave me some insight into all of those “genuine,” “heartfelt,” “sincere” celebrity tell-alls and the degree to which publishers waffle when they present such tomes as the exact words of the subject. The Olivia-Nicky interplay is believable and interesting. I was less convinced by Olivia’s relationship to Josh but…

…Oh, read the thing! And take a step back next time you’re thinking of buying Auntie Mildred the autobiography of her favourite I’m a Celeb contestant.  

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