Published: February 6th, 2020
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Coming-of-Age Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Abuse, Trauma
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this debut thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the novel.
She only looked away for a second…
Annie White only looked away for a second, but that’s all it took to lose sight of her young daughter.
But seven years later, Abigail is found.
And as Anne struggles to connect with her teenage daughter, she begins to question how much Abigail remembers about the day she disappeared….
Addictive, edge-of-your-seat, dark women’s fiction perfect for fans of Heidi Perks, Sophie Hannah and Lisa Jewell.
“It was when it was over that all the rest began, all that led up to that night on the bridge. When I had to account for everything I had done. And, ultimately, everything I had not.”
Seven years after Abigail White went missing at a London tube station she walks into a police station gripping the hand of a young girl. When her mother receives the call to say her fifteen-year-old daughter has been found, her joy is tinged with dread. Anne has been keeping a dreadful secret since that day, one that she has lived in fear of being revealed while also desperately doing all she can to find her child. Will her daughter remember what she did that day? Or will she return home without the truth shattering her family even more?
This one had me intrigued from the start. It started slowly, beginning on the day that Abigail is returning home, and gradually pulled me in, picking up pace until I was gripped by the heart-pounding tension and sizzling fear as more of the story was revealed. At the heart of this book is a story about family. The two sisters and their families have always been incredibly clo and her sister Lillian had their daughters Abigail and Jess just two weeks apart and they were more like twins than cousins. The two families have remained close since Abigail’s abduction, a relationship that is an integral part of the story.
In this book the author has The author has used her expertise as a psychologist and therapist to illuminate the complexities of the ‘joyful’ homecoming of a kidnapped child after many years: the fear alongside the relief and happiness, the disconnect between the child and their parents, the adjustments that are needed and the effects of trauma not only on the child, but their extended family. She also highlights how hard it might be for a child to trust their parents after they failed to protect them and their inner battle regarding their affection and fear for their captor and not knowing if all they’ve believed for so many years is actually true. My heart broke for this fractured family as I watched them try to piece themselves back together. The disconnect between Anne and Abigail was particularly palpable and tragic; she’s waited so long to her her child back and now doesn’t know how to be with her. This is compounded by her fear of what Abigail remembers and the guilt she’s carrying for whatever she did that day, but I wanted to reach through the pages and tell her to just hold her daughter. The author also highlighted the stunted personal growth Abigail would have gone through and used small details to show this.
Though there are male characters in the book it did feel like a story dominated by female characters and it was they who were the most richly drawn. All of them were well-intentioned but flawed. I liked that Abigail wasn’t the stereotypical child that’s just thrilled to be home and happy now she’s free.. She’s quiet, distant, surly, evasive, and scared. She’s endured unspeakable horrors and is reluctant to share what she’s been told by her captor. She slowly reveals little morsels, usually to Jess, and a picture gradually emerges of just how much he messed with her mind and hurt her emotionally. Obviously there’s a lot of sympathy for her, but the menacing undercurrent to her character and ambiguity of whether or not she’s causing harm made her all the more interesting to read.
Little White Lies is an emotional, twist-filled story. The author had a skill for making you think you can relax after a revelation only to leave you stunned with yet another heart-pounding twist that has you reading so fast the words almost blur. As the story progressed the author threw in a number of curveballs to throw us off the scent regarding Anne’s secret. I had a few theories about it, and about the man who’d taken Abigail, but I was so wrong. When the truth was finally revealed my jaw was on the floor.
A sizzling debut that you don’t want to miss. A perfect read for anyone who loves a good, twisty thriller.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Philippa East works as a Clinical Psychologist and therapist. She lives in Lincolnshire with her husband and cat. Philippa’s prize-winning short stories have been published in various literary journals and Little White Lies is her debut novel.
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