The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller

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The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Minette is so pleased, finally, to have nice neighbours she's willing to overlook that nagging feeling in her gut that something is not quite right. An intense read you won't want to miss.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Ebury Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091956332

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Unless you live absolutely in the middle of nowhere, you will have neighbours of some sort of another. Ours are half a mile away but we still know them and have a passing relationship. Turn that half a mile into a couple of steps and the relationship intensifies. People you see every day, may share a party wall or hedge boundary with, people with whom you might have to alternate that perfect on street parking spot. Minette has not had the best experience of neighbours. It's hard when you have a new born. They're not known for being quiet as a mouse at all times and occasionally, well, occasionally they scream through the night. So she's glad when the nasty couple move and are replaced by Cath and her two kids. A fellow mother! An ally! Surely she will be more understanding?

At first, Cath is the perfect neighbour. She's around quite a bit during the day, handy for taking in parcels or having a cup of tea and a natter with. Her kids are cute, though it must be hard work for her, what with Lola's allergies and Davey's disability. Plus she's a single mum to all intents and purposes – her husband travels for work, driving through Europe, so isn't there when they first move in. But, as Minette gets to know her, she can't help but feel like something is a little off. There are a few things that don't really add up, and not very often but more than once Cath does something to make her question her new neighbour's parenting. Is she really the good neighbour she makes herself out to be?

This book is a keeper from the very first page. I loved the switches in narration, not just because they tugged the story in different directions but because although the story was mainly Minette's to tell, when Cath or Davey got their hands on the microphone you really got a feel for what was going on inside their heads. I also like when children get a go leading the way, and though Davey is a little older than Jack from Room by Emma Donoghue it had the same kind of slightly naïve feel to it, which I thought worked extremely well.

There are various things in this book that you might be learning about for the first time, for example the ins and outs of Davey's medical condition. Even without knowing much about it, you can start to pick up on some areas where Cath is being over protective, for example Davey cannot physically use the computer but surely he could still go to the IT suite and sit alongside a friend? Whatever she tells the school, I think he could have argued that one for himself. Something I enjoyed about this book was the way you could tell from the start that something was a little off, but even having figured that out you needed the story to unfold to show you why and how things were as they were.

As I read it I found the story captivating, and it's only with hindsight that I can nit-pick. I will say I was impressed rather than disbelieving of the way a new mother could suddenly decide to train for, and subsequently compete in, a triathlon. Still, I was sceptical of the ease with which Minette fell into bad ways, though that could have been the influence of her new friends Cath and Liam. And although I understood how Cath had the wherewithal to influence the system, I'm still not sure she could have got away with duping some of those involved in Davey's care. I'd also have liked more than the little hints about what had gone on in her nursing past. Those snippets were infuriating because we never found out the details!

I cannot be too critical, though, because I really did like the book and couldn't stop once I was coming into the final 20 or so pages, feeling a momentum that gather and gathered until I reached the conclusion. It's a very easy book to lose yourself in, it's incredibly interesting, and I cannot do anything other than recommend it. Two very big thumbs up.

I'd like to thank the publishers for supplying this book.

For more neighbourly mystery, intrigue and twitching of curtains, The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish is excellent.

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Buy The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller at


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