None of this is True by Lisa Jewell

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None of this is True by Lisa Jewell

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An absolute cracker of a thriller from an author who is at the top of her game. Long may she stay there. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400/10h14m Date: July 2023
Publisher: Century
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529195972

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On her 45th birthday, Alix Summer celebrated with a crowd of friends in the Landsdown pub on Salisbury Road when she encountered Josie Fair. She, too, was out celebrating her 45th birthday, only she was just with her husband, Walter. It turns out that not only are Alix and Josie birthday twins, they were both born in St Mary's hospital. That's where the similarities end, though: Alix, with her husband, Nathan, are in the midst of a joyful, monied group of friends and whilst they're not exactly rowdy, they're enjoying themselves. Josie, on the other hand, holds her handbag close to her tummy and you get the sense that Walter's not too happy. He's not used to spending this much money on a meal - but it is Josie's birthday after all.

Just a few days later, Alix and Josie run into each other again. I say 'run into' but whilst it was accidental on Alix's side, it had been carefully engineered by Josie. Alix is an established podcaster who has been doing a series on influential women. Josie suggests that Alix should interview her - not because she's influential, but because they're birthday twins and it would be good to explore the similarities and differences between them. She also convinces Alix that she's about to make real changes in her life and it would be good to document them.

Alix had known that her old series was coming to a natural end and this would be a good one-off. She finds Josie unsettling, but she can't quite resist the temptation. She should have done, because it isn't long before she realises that Josie has wormed her way into her life - and her home.

Normally, I'm not keen on the scenario where someone inveigles their way into a family's life and then wreaks havoc: it's usually only too easy to see an obvious point at which this simply should not have happened but this is Lisa Jewell and you're in safe hands. The plotting is superb and the characterisation is brilliant. You'll quickly come to respect Alix: she's the person who genuinely does her best. Josie, on the other hand, is different. It's not long before you wonder if she's an unreliable narrator. We know that Walter is twenty-seven years older than Josie but how did they get together and when?

We soon find out that there are faultlines in Alix and Nathan's marriage. Nathan's a high earner and generous. He's also a drinker. Alix wonders if his habit of disappearing without warning and then reappearing looking guilty the next day is going to spell the end of their marriage. The night-time disappearances are one of the few things that she has in common with Josie apart from the coincidence of their birth. As soon as Walter thinks that Josie is asleep he leaves their bed and is away all night.

I was going to say that I couldn't put the book down but I listened to an audio download, which I bought myself and I couldn't tear myself away from it. A large part of that was the story but the narrators are Nicola Walker and Louise Brealey. Brealey is excellent but Nicola Walker is beyond even that. I've long been a fan (Unorfotten. The Split, Last Tango in Halifax and most recently Annika) so this was a real pleasure. I'm certain that she could read a shopping list and I would be riveted.

Then - when you get to the end, there's a twist which will leave you wondering all over again. Superb.

For more from Lisa Jewell, try Invisible Girl. You might also enjoy The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz.

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