Jenny has just given birth to the baby she’s always wanted. She’s never been this happy.
Her husband, Leo, knows this baby girl can’t be his. He’s never felt so betrayed.
The same night, a vulnerable young woman, Hannah, wakes to find her new-born lifeless beside her. She’s crazed with grief.
When chance throws Hannah into Leo’s path, they make a plan that will have shattering consequences for all of them.
Years later, a sixteen-year-old girl reads an article in a newspaper and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about herself. But what she learns will put everything she has ever known – and her own life – in grave danger. Because some people will go to desperate lengths to protect the secrets their lives are built on…
I’ve been a fan of Emma Curtis since reading her debut novel, One Little Mistake, in 2017, and was thrilled to be offered the chance to read and review her latest novel ahead of publication.
It begins with the sort of tense and emotive opening sequence which Curtis does really well as Jenny goes into labour and she and her husband Leo make the mad dash to the hospital. All is not as it seems as it quickly becomes apparent that the baby cannot be Leo’s – something that he has been all too conscious of since Jenny’s announcement of her pregnancy due to Leo having had a vasectomy years earlier. He has decided to play along, however, forgiving Jenny’s betrayal, seemingly prepared to bring the baby up as his own. That is until he meets Hannah. At seventeen years old, she cuts a tragic figure having recently lost her own new-born daughter. In their chance meeting, Leo sees a way to remove what he sees as a problem to his established way of life and makes a heat of the moment decision that will affect the lives of all three characters for years to come.
Keep Her Quiet is a novel that is full of flawed characters. Jenny is the most likeable of the three, and the only one who really evoked any sympathy in me. She experiences a mother’s worst nightmare when her daughter, Sophie, is snatched from her crib mere hours after being born. It’s a horrible situation to be in, particularly when the reader knows more about why Sophie was taken, and it’s difficult not to sympathise with her. I can’t honestly say that I liked her though. I thought that her actions in conceiving her child were dishonest and manipulative, and I disliked her for that behaviour. I had a similarly mixed opinion of Hannah. To say that she hasn’t had an easy life doesn’t even begin to cover it, and there’s a heart-wrenching scene at the beginning of the novel where she wakes up to find that her own new-born daughter has died. I found that her behaviour from that point on removed any sympathy that I had for her, however, and couldn’t excuse her actions as she manipulates a situation to her own benefit, giving no consideration to anyone other than herself.
While I had mixed views on Jenny and Hannah, I thoroughly despised Leo. Determined to make his mark on the literary world, he lives a particularly easy life as Jenny earns a salary that allows him to focus upon his writing full time. He’s in the awkward position of knowing that Jenny’s child can’t be his, and yet chooses to accept her infidelity in order to maintain his lifestyle. He’s a truly awful character, and throughout I wanted bad things to happen to him. As the novel moves on, it becomes clear that he’s had no qualms whatsoever at using the publicity of the kidnapping to his own advantage, using his time in the public eye to promote his own work as well as taking part in the appeals for the return of Sophie. He milks the situations for all it’s worth and is a thoroughly selfish individual.
I liked the structure of the novel, which shows the birth of Jenny’s daughter and that life-changing decision of Leo’s that will have such far-reaching consequences, before moving on sixteen years. Jenny is still, understandably, struggling to cope with the loss of her daughter, keeping herself busy and trying to get on with her life as best she can. I can’t say too much about the plot from this point on, but a letter – published in a national newspaper – from Jenny to Sophie on her sixteenth birthday triggers a set of events that proves that secrets do not remain hidden. It’s an exciting and engaging plot exploring the aftermath of Leo and Hannah’s decision and how far they are prepared to go to keep their secrets. I did find myself suspending my disbelief at times as I wasn’t wholly convinced by the actions of some characters, but not so much as to prevent me from enjoying the novel.
The eBook of Keep Her Quiet will be published by Black Swan on 6 August, with the paperback and audio versions released on 17 September. With thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review Keep Her Quiet ahead of publication via Netgalley.