Cuckoo by Julia Crouch is a seriously deep book, full of class, intrigue and a complexity that was so unexpected it was a delight to read – despite an overwhelming darkness that oozed from within. Published by Headline on March 3rd the book had me from the get go. On reading the accompanying blurb (below) and dust jacket I did wonder if the book was aimed at the female market (especially with the pink suitcase adorning the cover), but it soon became evident that the book is well suited to any adult audience interested in psychological dramas/thrillers – male or female, equally suited, you’ll find it hard to resist its compelling narrative. Now available in Paperback & Kindle Format.
“Polly is Rose’s oldest friend. So when she calls with the news that her husband has died, Rose doesn’t think twice about inviting her to stay. She’d do anything for Polly; it’s always been that way.
Polly has never been one to conform – it’s one of the qualities Rose most admires in her – and from the moment she and her two small boys arrive on Rose’s doorstep, it’s obvious she is not the typical grieving widow. But the longer Polly stays, the more Rose wonders how well she really knows her. She can’t help wondering, too, whether her presence has anything to do with Rose’s growing sense that she’s losing her hold on her own family and home.
As Rose’s meticulously constructed world is picked apart at the seams, one thing becomes clear: once Polly’s in, it’s very hard to get her out again.”
I’m not sure if Julia was in a dark place when she wrote this book – I prefer to think that, like any good method actor, she has the unquestionable ability to go where she needs to to deliver such an uncompromising and polished dark narrative. Make no mistake, I found this book dark and had me questioning my own sanity on a few occasions!
The characterisation is breath-taking. One minute you find yourself relating to Rose, agreeing with what she has to say and the next minute you want to shake her until she comes to her senses. It’s as if Julia has written two parts for each character and then, at the flick of a switch, when the scene demands it, changed their persona. You never know what to expect – which is always a good thing! Gareth (Rose’s husband) and Polly are both cast as villains of the piece and I have to admit I found it hard to warm to either!
Anna (Rose’s daughter) on the other hand is a revelation. I couldn’t get enough of her! She was a delight and the daughter every parent wants! She’s attentive, loving, thoughtful and willing to do anything her mother and father asks of her. She helps out when times are tough and has a maturity that belies her true age – I loved her, I wanted to wrap her up and take her home with me. An effervescent character; Anna for me brightened up any page in which she appeared with her absolute loyalty to her mother.
As I read my way past the halfway point I began to allow my mind to question where the book would go and how Julia would tie up all the loose ends. I’ve always got an idea in my head whatever the book – how would I finish this off? – putting myself in Julia’s shoes (well not physically of course because that would be so wrong on so many levels!) I thought I’d worked it out but then she goes and changes all the rules and throws a few curve balls into the mix and had me flummoxed
I didn’t see the ending – didn’t think it was possible but Julia writes with such authority that it felt the right thing to do – it will quite possibly leave you breathless for a second or two. In fact, like her characterisation, the conclusion will satisfy readers on multiple levels. Written very much like the final episode of a popular drama Crouch leaves the door open but unlike LOST the author answers more questions than not and doesn’t leave you hanging – or does she?! I guess you’ll have to read this one for yourself – a magnificent debut from Julia Crouch. Cuckoo, so aptly titled, is a stunning introduction to her work and I for one can’t wait to read her next novel.
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