Today I am thrilled to be sharing my review of The Guilty Friend by Joanne Sefton. Happy publication day Joanne.
About the Book:
Alex, Karen and Misty were an inseparable trio at university. But when Alex died suddenly, the remaining two friends could no longer look each other in the eye, knowing they both had a part to play in her death.
Thirty years later, Misty and Karen have long since moved on with their lives. But when Karen thinks she sees her former friend alive, she soon becomes obsessed with a past she thought she’d left behind.
Before long, the perfect life she’s built for herself starts to unravel, and it seems as though history might just be repeating itself…
Can Karen keep her secrets hidden? Or will her guilt tear an innocent family apart?
This book had me hooked right from the beginning. It is an emotionally compelling story about family relationships, friendship, mystery and anorexia. The part that anorexia plays in the story did come as a surprise as this is not mentioned in the blurb. I feel compelled to mention it, as it could be a trigger for some readers.
Joanne doesn’t waste any time in throwing the reader into the story which is where we get our first glimpse into the mystery side of it. Whilst watching a breaking news story of a suspected terror attack where a bomb has gone off on a tube train, Karen can’t believe her eyes when she sees a woman on the screen that bears the most remarkable resemblance to her best friend Alex. There shouldn’t be anything unusual about that right?….Wrong! Alex has been dead for thirty years!….
Throughout the book, Joanne takes the reader on a journey to the past told from the perspective of Karen, Misty and Alex we then return, thirty years later to the present, with Karen, Misty and Tasha (Karen’s Daughter). I enjoyed going back to the past, as the reader it gave me a good insight into the three women’s friendship and the events that lead up to the death of Alex. Alex died due to complications of a long history of anorexia, and how her death resulted in the breakdown of Karen and Misty’s friendship. The past is then woven into the present day, where history is about to repeat itself with Tasha, and when Karen and Misty are reunited by a mutual friend they must confront the part they played in Alex’s death if they are to have any chance of saving Tasha.
The characters in the book were very relatable and well developed. For me the standouts were: Karen who has been through the most over the course of the story, where she is having to deal with a recent tragedy and other struggles whilst raising her three daughters. This at times can make her a bit self absorbed and oblivious to those around her, and you just want to shake her, especially with her lack of urgency to Tasha’s current battle. She also still struggles with the death of Alex as she feels that she was to blame so I understand that this shaped her into the adult she became.
I really liked Misty’s character and how she turned the death of Alex into something positive, by becoming a doctor specialising in eating disorders. Her never give up attitude when helping her patients and then Tasha was to be admired.
Tasha broke my heart. I felt her pain and just wanted to help her. It was at times distressing to read when the story was told from her perspective and about how she was feeling. You will need the tissues handy for her parts in the book.
The book moved at a steady pace and gave each character the time needed to tell their story without being drawn out. I was so invested in it, that time would get away from me and a couple of chapters turned into just one more, and one more until there wasn’t any more to read!
I also have to make mention of “the ending” and what an ending it is! The last sentence written was jaw dropping and gasp worthy. It is a brilliant twist that has stayed with me long after reading it! For me, this is what makes a book great and Joanne has definitely mastered the wow factor in this story.
I really enjoyed Joanne’s writing style. Having known someone that had everything going for her only to succumb to this terrible disease, it could have been quite hard for me to read. However, Joanne handles the subject respectfully and with sensitivity. It is clear that the book was extremely well researched. I look forward to reading more of Joanne’s work.
While the book is billed as a thriller/suspense, I am not sure that’s the right fit as a descriptor. All round though, this is a great book, I highly recommend it.
Thank-you to #NetGalley, #AvonBooksUK and #JoanneSefton for allowing me to read an advanced copy of The Guilty Friends in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own and are not biased in anyway.
About the Author:
Joanne Sefton lives in Bath and as well as writing, she is a working barrister and mother. She is Scottish and has an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University.
To keep up to date on Joanne’s work, you can follow her on these social media accounts.