Book Review: Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

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What it’s about:

It’s been eight years since Geniver Loxley lost her daughter, Beth. Since that day, Gen has been floundering. While her husband Art builds his business reputation and their fortune, she can’t let go of Beth. And then one day, everything changes. A strange woman shows up on Gen’s doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that Beth is alive. That she is out there somewhere, waiting for Gen to find her…

It’s insane. Unthinkable. But why would someone make up such a story? Ignoring the warnings of her husband and friends, Gen begins to hope – hope that quickly turns into fear and paranoia. With questions swirling around her head, Gen is determined to uncover the truth. But who can she trust? Why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? Is Beth even really out there? And, if so, who is responsible for taking her?

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Review:

This is the second book from the Richard and Judy summer reading challenge I decided to tackle and I’ve been quite excited about writing up my review about it. Unlike everything else I seem to have read lately, I actually have something other than just excellent points about the book to say. This story is about a woman called Geniver who tragically had a stillbirth 8 years ago. Then one day a woman knocks on her door and claims to know that her baby, whom she named, ‘Beth’, is actually still alive and out there. Somewhere. This information turns Geniver’s life upside down and after confiding in an unlikely source to help her uncover the truth she unravels a series of events that leave her unable to trust anyone. Even her own husband. This story covers the unlikely bond between strangers, learning that you may not be able to trust someone you thought you could and the effect family has on us all.

I was a bit apprehensive about reading this at first because according to the blurb at the back of the book if you are fans of Sophie Hannah novels then you should like this one. I’m sorry to say, but I’m really not a fan of Sophie Hannah’s novels so that instantly put me off. However, I feel I was proven wrong as eventually, it was a very gripping, tense and enjoyable novel. At first, I thought this book was very slow-paced. I felt it took a good few chapters for anything ‘significant’ to happen and it did take a while for me to ‘get into it’ so to speak. About 1/3rd of the way through was when I really got hooked and the ending of most chapters was left on a cliff-hanging, forcing me to read on. It was a fairly addictive read and I have to give the author credit for an original storyline however all-in-all I do feel it was all a bit far-fetched and predictive. There are a few specific scenes in the book which were quite intense, e.g. sex or fight scenes and I felt they were all a bit rushed. For example, the whole chapter would be leading up to the event and then the whole scene would happen in a matter of lines. This book is written from the point of view of the main character, Geniver, so I would have liked to hear more of what she’s feeling in that moment of fear or passion rather than simply, what’s happening in front of her. Once the initial story is over, it all comes to a very abrupt end and then all of a sudden, we’re a few years into the future and Geniver is summing up what happened to her and the characters. While it was good how you find out how they all end up in the end, I personally found it as a bit of a clean ending for Geniver. Call me a pessimist but I think in the end, everything worked out a bit too well, considering the complications of the story.

I know I’ve made some quite specific points here about what I didn’t like about this novel but in all honesty I really did enjoy it. McKenzie gives you a good sense of the characters through Geniver’s eyes, her life and the way she feels towards her husband and friends. I also really liked how nothing is given away. You’re in exactly the same boat as Geniver and you know just as much about her missing child as she does. There’s small snippets throughout the book from a child’s point of view but to me, they gave nothing away. If anything, they made me more confused! The fact that you’re both on the same page in terms of finding out the truth made me feel like I was more with the character, rather than just reading about her and her story and it definitely left me on the edge of my seat, hoping that in the end, she really will find out the truth.

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