Sometimes, you don’t appreciate what you’ve got. I’m very fortunate in that I met Louise Jensen very shortly before her first book, The Sister, was released. We were sitting next to each other at a writing conference, got chatting and have been friends ever since. But I don’t always think I’ve been that great a friend. At least twice she’s invited me to book launches and both times I couldn’t make it. On the second occasion, I had to cry off only hours before it started.

To be fair, I’m sure I wasn’t missed. There will have been many more people at each event, and I’d have probably only blended into the background. Still, it’s not every day you get invited to book launches – I don’t anyway – so I really should have made more of an effort. And I did, when she invited me to the launch of The Family last October.

It was a great night, with great company. I got to chat to some people I knew, and some I didn’t. An ideal evening. Plus there was the opportunity to share in Louise’s excitement at this latest publication, her first with HQ. I remember driving home afterwards and reflecting on how well she’d done and how she should be proud of herself. I suppose that’s true for any author, but when you know them you really feel it.

Even so, it took me a while to get round to reading The Family. In my defence, I had downloaded it to my Kindle and it was shortly afterwards that it died on me. But it’s only a partial defence because my partner doesn’t get on with Kindle, so she’d bought a copy at the launch…

As you can see, it was for both of us, so I could have read that. But I didn’t. I waited until I had my new Kindle. On the plus side, the paperback is in pristine condition, something I couldn’t guarantee if I got my hands on it.

I’ve read all of Louise’s books and enjoyed each of them. Even so, I do think The Family is her best yet. It might’ve taken me months to start reading, but it took only days to finish. There are usually a lot of strands to her books, and this is no different. It’s working out how they’re all going to come together that keeps you reading on, with plenty of chapter endings leaving you wanting to know what happens next, or even wondering: ‘what was that all about?’. The writing style is easy, lulling the reader into a false sense of security, as you eventually realise loads of questions have been raised, and you plough on, desperate to know what the answers are. She does keep you waiting, though, tossing the odd morsel here and there to keep you going, but it barely satisfies the hunger that’s building. At one point, I was beginning to wonder how – or even if – she was going to explain everything satisfactorily, because I could see the end of the book wasn’t too far away. Was she going to fall into the trap of cramming in all the missing details in the form of an info-dump? But she didn’t. It all came out at the right pace, the reveals, the explanations, the back stories, everything timed to satisfy your appetite without leaving you feeling sick…

Told largely in the first person, but with two points of view, Louise allows you to really get into the heads of the main characters. But those different perspectives highlight how two people can see the same thing in different ways. As in life, it’s a recipe for misunderstanding and conflict. And it’s fair to say that the ending of the book reflects life as well, because not everything is tied up neatly in a bow, and that leaves the reader thinking about it for quite a while afterwards.

I know it took me a while to get there, but I always knew I would and I’m looking forward now to her next book, The Stolen Sisters. I’m not sure when it’s due out but, as my Kindle will still be relatively new, it shouldn’t give me an excuse to put off reading it – and I can pretend to be a better friend…

 

 

 

 

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