Hannah, Sophie - 'The Other Half Lives'
When your world falls apart and everything is ruined, you lose part of yourself...One half, the best half, dies. The other half lives. The three main characters in this novel are all women, and all with a past traumatic event in their lives. One is Ruth, who used to be an award winning landscape gardener until she was attacked. Now she has moved away to Spilling and a new 'half life'. Another is Charlie, a police sergeant, once a detective until she unwittingly became involved in a scandal. And the third is Mary Trelease, an artist who lives in a shabby house on a council estate, and refuses to sell any of her startling paintings, her past trauma unknown. But Ruth's boyfriend Aidan confesses to her that he killed a woman some years ago, and that that woman was called Mary Trelease. How can she still be alive? Did she somehow survive? Or, if she is some sort of imposter, why?
As the book unfolds, the truth about Ruth's, Charlie's and Mary's past traumas are gradually unveiled, and their lives become connected. Ruth deliberately selects Charlie to tell her that Aidan admitted to killing Mary Trelease. Both women search out Mary to try to discover who she really is, and how she can still be alive when she is supposed to be dead. The skill is in this gradual telling of the story and the leaking glimpses into each of the women's past lives. The author is particularly adept at portraying how reactions are misinterpreted, and how each of the main characters are able to reveal some, but not all of their story to others leading to false trails both for the reader, and the characters. The thoughts and actions of each of the three women are influenced by their past experiences throughout. Moreover, the book explores obsessions, and how not being able to let go, leads to the inevitable consequences.
THE OTHER HALF LIVES is an intriguing and thought-provoking read. Without giving the plot away, there were a couple of niggling plot lines that I felt didn't quite fit, but as a whole, the book was enjoyable. It was the first book that I've read by this author, and I will certainly be reading more.
Read another review of THE OTHER HALF LIVES.
Michelle Peckham, England