The story is told via three points of view:
Joanna Greenfield (Derby, England) – works as a Head of Counselling Services at a university. She is a very caring woman, so is excellent at her job. She lives alone (with the company of her cat) after her break-up with Luke, with whom she had a sixteen year-long, serious relationship. Then, she meets Callum Foley, a bartender with a sympathetic ear and goes on a date with him. Soon thereafter she gets a phone call from the local hospital…
Leah Hannell (Lake Garda, Italy) – works as a lawyer in London. She is visiting her sister Charlotte at the family owned, luxury resort Il Manddarino. This is the first time she has visited since the untimely death of her twenty-one year old niece, Amy. The resort, though pristinely beautiful, emits a sense of menace. Charlotte and her husband, and Leah’s other niece Olivia, never mention the dead Amy. Leah is certain that there is more to the story of Amy’s death than she has been told…
Amy Wynne (the days preceding her death in Lake Garda, Italy) – at twenty-one years of age Amy feels stifled by her family and the family business. The resort is like a luxurious prison with CCTV camera everywhere, and a domineering father who wants always to have his resort thought of as ‘perfect’. She hatches a plan to escape her family’s clutches and go to Edinburgh to study. She is aided in this escape plan by one of the resort’s bartenders, Nate Fraser.
The two separate story-lines of “The Other Guest” were both compelling in their own right. For several chapters I just couldn’t imagine how the stories were connected. The light finally dawned for me at almost the halfway mark. Clever.
The twin settings of Derby, England and Lake Garda, Italy were very distinct, so made it easy to discern which story-line you were reading. The characters were vividly portrayed – and sympathetic, so I was invested in their fates.
With themes of guilt, familial loyalty, megalomania, and keeping up appearances, this novel is ingeniously plotted and I was absolutely immersed throughout the entire book. The ending chapters were suspenseful and riveting.
Highly, highly, recommended to those readers who enjoy intelligently plotted thrillers.
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 Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalleyPublication date: June 16, 2022
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton/Hachette UK
published in North America by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on July 26, 2022
ISBN: 9781529330137 ASIN: B09KG58HVN 400 pages
My review of Helen Cooper’s debut novel “The Downstairs Neighbor“
Helen Cooper is from Derby and has a MA in Creative Writing and a background in teaching English and Academic Writing. Her creative writing has been published in Mslexia and Writers’ Forum; she was shortlisted in the Bath Short Story Prize in 2014, and came third in the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2018. The Downstairs Neighbor is her first novel.