“There are always two ways to interpret everything in life. All you need to do is pick the version that suits you better.”
“… whenever you try to run away from your problems,
your problems join you for the ride, and no matter how far you travel, you can always rely on them to keep you company.”
Linda Hammett is a woman desperate for friendship, affection… to even be noticed would be good. When she was a girl she suffered a traumatic event that has coloured her life and relationships ever since. Now she works in a charity shop, is married, in her early forties, and is highly dissatisfied with her life. She has experienced little in the way of kindness.
Because Linda knows so little of relationships, she doesn’t have the first idea about how to make herself liked. People ridicule her, but she is oblivious. She simply does not understand how social repartee works. To top it off, she lives with an annoying man who shows her no real affection. She too would be difficult to live with. She wears the same tatty dressing gown day after day, year after year, over her clothes when she is cleaning. Cleaning is something Linda does a lot – she is a germophobe. Linda also has a very strict moral code with most things either being black or white. She is a creature of routine and presents as someone who might very well be on the autism spectrum.
“I was used to conversations disappearing whenever I went near them.”
Due to the fact that Linda has little savvy when it comes to other people, she makes for an easy mark with those who are unscrupulous and who are eager to take advantage of her naivete and desperation to have friends.
“…nothing dilutes your own unhappiness like feeding on the unhappiness of others.”
This book made me uncomfortable. The protagonist, Linda, was such a pitiable woman yet at the same time I wanted to shake her for being so naive. To her acquaintances she came across as needy, awkward, loud, clumsy, and generally ‘odd’.
Her husband was fairly odious, and I got the impression that she cared little about him. I wondered how she ever managed to find him in the first place until I realized that he was the only man to ever pay her any attention – thus she latched onto him.
The local murders provided a focal point for Linda’s interest, and made the reader wonder how they would eventually link back to her – as surely they must…
I hated the way Linda’s so-called friends took advantage of her. There were times I wanted to shake her.
Unnerving, quirky, and clever this story of a couple living on a suburban estate in Northern England will chill you, make you chuckle (guiltily), and make you think. The author is a psychiatrist, so he knowledge of the human psyche comes into play.
The novel was a brilliant mixture of character study, crime novel, and literary fiction. At times it was very dark and there were a few brilliant twists.
Laced with dark humour, this novel constantly made me wonder whether Linda was foolish, canny, or perhaps even wise – such was her multi-layered personality. This was a psychological study of a person who is now in an institution of some kind, but you don’t really know why, or how their fate came about. Is Linda a victim, or is she the very opposite of victim? Read “A Tidy Ending” to find out… well, to find out IF the ending is as tidy as the title would imply.
Speaking for myself, the ending made me want to clap my hands – alternatively it chilled me to the bone.
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 Scribner/Simon and Schuster via Edelweiss.
ISBN: 9781982185572 — ASIN: B07XPGBKTV— 412 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Joanna Cannon’s first two novels, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things about Elsie, were both Sunday Times bestsellers and Richard and Judy picks.
Joanna left school at fifteen with one O-level and worked her way through many different jobs – barmaid, kennel maid, pizza delivery expert – before returning to school in her thirties and qualifying as a doctor. Her work as a psychiatrist and interest in people on the fringes of society continue to inspire her writing, and Joanna currently volunteers for Arts for Health, an organization bringing creative arts to NHS staff and patients. Joanna Cannon’s second novel ‘Three Things About Elsie’ was published in January 2018 and explores memory, friendship and old age.
She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog.