Earlier this year, I was thrilled to win a giveaway from Amanda Reynolds on Twitter for a proof copy of her novel, Close to Me, plus a themed Book Buddle. It’s been sat on my TBR for far too long, but I’ve read it, and, of course, I now wish that I had done so earlier, as I really enjoyed it.
When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.
Close to Me alternates between the present day with chapters x days after the fall, and snapshots from the past year as she starts to remember little snippets that she had forgotten as a result of the fall. I find books that play with memory intriguing, and Close to Me is no exception. Jo’s gut feel is that there is something that’s not quite right – she just doesn’t know what, and I couldn’t help but wonder where this feeling came from and what was behind it. Was Jo in danger, or was it all in her mind, making up demons where there were none?
Unreliable narrators are common, but I liked that Jo is unreliable through no fault of her own. Her memory loss, and the fact that those around her deliberately withhold information from her, mean that she has to try and piece things together based upon the little snippets of memory that do come back to her as well as the drip feed of information from her husband, Rob, and her family. And it’s very easy to put two and two together to get five in such a situation.
Jo is understandably frustrated throughout, and I thought that this came across well. Her frustration stems from both not being able to remember people or events, but also at the coddling approach Rob takes following the accident. And his argument is a good one – he doesn’t want her stressed by the minutiae of life while she’s recovering. That said, I did think that there were things that were kept from her for no good reason whatsoever, and this did make the story a little frustrating at times, although this was only a minor niggle, and, of course, purely my opinion.
I read Close to Me over the course of a single, albeit extremely lazy, Sunday. There are some interesting twists in the story, and the slow process of Jo regaining her memory was cleverly done, making me question the things that I thought I’d pieced together as new information came to light.
Close to Me is published in paperback today (27 July) by Wildfire Books, and is also available as an eBook. Many thanks to Amanda for this lovely prize.