In rural Surrey, there is a tiny insular enclave of four mismatched houses located on a cul-de-sac called Hope Close. Lets meet the occupants of the four houses:
Layla and Charles Dolphin – live in a former manor house, the best house of the four. Layla is in her mid-thirties and has an eight-year old son named Henry. Charles, who has been married twice before, is seventeen years older than Layla. Charles has determined that Henry should go away to boarding school and, against her better judgement, Layla agrees to the plan. After Henry is gone, she regrets her acquiesce and is lost in her big house with nothing to take up her time. Once an architect in London where she had many friends, she now fills her days with far too many glasses of wine. She is very lonely with only her cat, Aristotle, for company.
Nicole and Ted – Nicole is very fit for her age. Although she is in her early fifties, she works out all the time. An empty nester, she pines for her grown children who have recently all left the family home. Now she only has her faithful spaniel, Stanley for company during the long hours when her husband Ted, a busy builder, is away at work. Her husband doesn’t seem to take notice of her sexually and she has become very needy. Her time is long and she is very lonely.
Joan and Lionel Taylor – Joan is a ‘curtain twitcher’. In her sixties, she is unpleasant, childless, and prone to be a nosy neighbour. Joan recently lost her sister and her nephew and she is still grieving her loss. She is an avid gardener, but suffers from a bad knee which limits her activity. Joan and Lionel have few interests in common and, like the other woman on Hope Close, Joan is very lonely.
Andy Meyer – lives alone in a newly remodeled house. New to the neighbourhood, he is in his mid-thirties. Andy Meyer wasn’t always his name. He has a dark secret about his past life which he wants to remain secret. He has erected solid dark gates to shield his house from the others in Hope Close. These gates cause a furor of suspicion amongst the neighbours.
With chapters told from each of the characters point of view, the reader is immersed in Hope Close with its tension, antagonism, grievances, loneliness, unhappiness and secrecy. An uneasy dynamic to say the least.
Hope Close is a place which I would not want to visit in person. It gives off vibes of unfriendliness and unhappiness which makes its name a misnomer. The characters were for the most part unlikable and all had secrets of one sort or another. That being said, I did enjoy reading about this place and these characters which kept me wondering and speculating throughout the book. What was Andy hiding? What would happen when the others found out about his secrets? Would Layla ever find marital happiness? Would Nicole? And what of Joan? Was she a harridan – or someone who deserves our pity?
For the most part, this was a page-turner, though it did lag around the middle. I found myself impatient with the characters at times. The ending was satisfying though ever so slightly anticlimactic.
This is the first title I’ve read by this author, but would definitely read more of her work when the chance presents itself. Recommended to those who enjoy an atmospheric domestic thriller.
3.5 stars rounded up for Goodreads, NetGalley and Amazon
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Amazon Publishing UK via NetGalley.
Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, and after graduating from the University of Bath spent over 20 years working in marketing and advertising. She is the author of four novels, When We Were Friends (formerly A Serpentine Affair), One Step Too Far, The Honeymoon and Hope Close. Her novels have been published in 18 languages & over 60 countries.
Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.
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