Author: Charlotte Duckworth
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Esther’s husband Robin is the perfect father to their two-year-old daughter, Riley.
After she was born, Robin took a break from work as a standup comic to look after her, while Esther went back to the career she loved. It was a sensible arrangement. Robin’s career had tanked and Esther had been promoted to PR Director, so it was the right thing to do. But gradually Esther becomes aware of Robin’s passive aggression, how he deliberately seemed to cast Esther in a bad light in front of their very impressionable daughter.
To make matters worse, Esther can’t trust Robin because he has once cheated on her with a small-time actress called Kim.
It is an unconventional arrangement, but it has worked for them so far. And now it is off.
Esther gets a text from Robin, a single word, Sorry. She rushes home, frantic, only to find that Riley has been taken away by Robin. She is still wondering where they might have gone when the doorbell rings and the police come in to tell her that Robin has met with an accident, and that he is in hospital.
When police question Esther as to why Robin might have taken Riley away and sought to disappear, she has no answer. Not for them anyway. But there are many secrets she is not prepared to tell them.
Not about the truth of what happened to her during her pregnancy, nor the truth about Kim.
What is that secret? And will Esther ever find Riley again?
Beginning in the Now, the story goes back to Three Years Earlier and is written in the first-person present tense points of view of both Robin and Esther in both timelines. There are no chapters but accounts of the two mail characters. Slowly we come to know of somebody called Sarah that Robin is obsessed with.
At first, it’s all good. She loves him. He loves her. Then the chinks become clear to us. There’s a woman he can’t stop thinking of, and she has her secrets too.
About Vivienne, Esther says, Sometimes our friendship feels like an elastic band that’s worn too thin and might snap any minute. At another point, Vivienne admits to Esther that they haven’t been that close, and some time later, Esther calls Vivienne her best friend.
Robin’s stay-at-home status is unconventional, but it might also be something sinister masquerading as a new age man.
What would have made the book better was a few more glimpses into the reality of their marriage. The big reveal didn’t appear so convincing to me.
The women in this book were all strong. Even when they erred, they couldn’t be faulted for their intentions. Vivienne stood out for the quiet strength she imparted to Esther.
The author successfully manages to highlight a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which Esther suffers from during her pregnancy. It is a condition where pregnant women suffer extreme morning sickness and cannot retain any food or water, retching to the point of exhaustion. The book also raises awareness about diabetes which claims thousands of lives each year.
(I read this book through NetGalley. Thank you, NetGalley, the author and the publisher.)