I’ve procrastinated writing my review of this book. Why? Because in one sense I absolutely loved it and I found it all-consuming (which I love when I’m reading a book). On the other hand it was utterly frustrating. Yet even though I finished this book over a week ago now, I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Hmmm, maybe that’s a sign of a good novel…
One thing’s for sure, I’m desperate for all of you to read The Betrayals and let me know what you think. So please do!
The Betrayals focuses on divorced couple Rosie and Nick and their two grown-up children Daisy and Max. When the book opens Nick is now in a relationship with Lisa who was once Rosie’s best friend. This in a sense is the ultimate betrayal that the book pivots on as it is Nick and Lisa’s affair that broke up his marriage. However as the themes of memory and guilt run throughout the novel, other acts of betrayal or perceived betrayal dramatically impact on all the lives of the characters. Daisy has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Lisa has cancer, Rosie uses Tinder for sex and Max is infatuated by women who treat him badly.
Narrated through Daisy, Max, Rosie and Nick in turn, we hear first hand their very different points of view on the family events that have shaped them all. This gives each of the central characters their own distinctive voice. From Daisy, we see how her OCD controls her; from Max we find out about the guilt he has been carrying around since childhood; from Nick we discover how he uses life to justify his weaknesses; and from Rosie we see that she is unable to make new romantic attachments following being betrayed by the two people she trusted most.
I particularly loved the sibling interaction between Daisy and Max in this book, and how both try to cope with her OCD. Also how the author Fiona Neill portrays the OCD throughout the book is sensitive and insightful; so much so I genuinely did wonder if she had close hand experience of the disorder.
This is the first time I have ever read a novel written by Fiona Neill and essentially I loved her writing style; I found it so real and absorbing. She presents a thought-provoking and raw portrayal of modern life through characters that you can really empathise with. It is not a happy read (so I wouldn’t recommend this if you are looking for something lighthearted); but it has true depth. It also has snapshots of humour, mainly portrayed through Nick’s view of Lisa’s ‘healer’ Gregorio, which I often found myself laughing out loud at. As well as being funny, this further gives the novel a sense of realness as I think many people will relate to Nick’s view of Gregorio.
So why was The Betrayals a frustrating read for me? Well in parts I found it a tad disjointed with things left unclear. For me it was ambiguous in parts, especially the ending which really frustrated me. However on reflection I suppose this adds to the ‘realness’ of this novel as modern life is often disjointed and ambiguous.
It is a hard-hitting read also covering topics of alcoholism and bullying. It is a book that drew me in and captivated me. Yet I suppose I felt let down by its ambiguity, especially at the end. However as I mention above, since finishing the book over a week ago I have thought and thought about it, especially the ending. Hence why I’m desperate for you to read The Betrayals too to see if we come to the same conclusion…
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my honest review.
Publication date of The Betrayals: 13 July 2017