Review: The Other Child by Lucy Atkins

Friday 5 June 2015
Title: The Other Child
Author: Lucy Atkins
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 4th June 2015
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781782069874
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth ... but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house. Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery...

I was very excited to read The Other Child when I saw it on NetGalley because both the title and the blurb left me incredibly intrigued. Tess is moving from England to Boston due to partner Greg's new job. Despite not being written in the first person, we immediately get a sense of how overwhelmed Tess is by the move. The affluent neighbourhood and big house she is moving into leave her with a feeling of dread and isolation more than excitement. Strange happenings on the first night, and Greg being away a lot - and then distant and strange when he is home - don't exactly help matters for Tess.

I think what I enjoyed most about The Other Child is how as the story progresses I started to come up with a number of theories as to what was going on, what that ultimate 'twist' would be and I probably had about four or five different scenarios playing out in my mind (and none of them were correct). We really get inside Tess's head, so much so that at times her feelings come across as paranoia more than anything else until she makes a jaw-dropping discovery. Most intriguing to witness was her relationship with Greg, who in the beginning I felt was a bit of a cold character, and it took me a while to get to grips with his character and connect with him. As each chapter ends you are left with more questions, more intrigue as to what is going on and the big reveal did surprise me, but it was fantastic.

The Other Child is an extremely thought-provoking book in the actions of our characters and some of the decisions that they make, not only in the present day but also in the past, which is explored in detail as the book progresses. It is a book that would certainly provoke a lively discussion at a book club. I wouldn't say we could relate to Tess unless we were in her situation ourselves, but as outsiders I think we can often be very quick to judge so I did have a number of opinions about the decisions that she made, and wondered how I would act in a similar situation myself. The story could have ended in so many ways and I think that's what makes it so thought-provoking as readers might have their own opinions as to how things could have ended.

A real highlight of the book was Lucy's brilliant writing. I've said it in the past but I cannot for the life of me describe writing but in The Other Child it is so wonderfully descriptive one minute but so full of intrigue and menace the next, keeping you turning the pages eager to find out what's going to happen next. Having Tess move to Boston, not being near her family and friends adds a different dynamic to the story, and you can really sympathise with her throughout. Overall The Other Child is a thoroughly enjoyable and at times gripping book, and one that I very highly recommend.


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