Alex a career officer in an elite regiment returns from Afghanistan a changed man He has left the Army behind and is attempting to forge a civilian career as a security advisor His wife Juliet is delighted She Alex and their son Ben now live in a well appointed house in a leafy London suburbBut all is not well Juliet's research on the internet suggests that Alex is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD but pride means that he will not seek professional helpFinding solace in web forums Juliet is offered the use of a cottage and is urged to remove Ben to a place of safety After a lot of secretive planning and the financial support of Alex's mother who had suffered at the hands of her husband Juliet and Ben escape the tyranny of their home with the hope of starting afresh This was a clever and well written book It is insightful into what can happen when a person returns from war and is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder It really is an eye opener However having read the other book by Lizzie Forbes The Nearest Thing to Crazy I was spoilt I felt it was just not in the same league It took a while to get into the plot and when it did I felt I knew what was going to happen A little twist at the end which I didn't expect though Was still a great book to read and would recommend it After reading and reviewing the highly acclaimed debut novel written by Elizabeth Forbes ‘Nearest Thing to Crazy’ I was so excited to be offered a review copy of ‘Who Are You?’ in return for an honest review I could hardly wait to start the first of the two parts the book is divided into ‘Homecoming’ But I was not disappointed at all in fact from the first page I was so engrossed that I was kept reading late into the night unable to tear myself away from this electrifying psychological thriller‘Homecoming’ referred to the return to civilian life of Alex a dashing and well respected Army Officer returned safely from his tour in Afghanistan to his wife Juliet and their young son Ben They have bought the house of Juliet’s dreams in a dappled suburban road where they are integrating into the affluent neighbourhood with ease All should be rosy but it isn’t The Alex who went away to war a tender and romantic husband has changed beyond all recognition He is angry at everything controlling bullish and in denial refusing to accept that he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Juliet is sympathetic but determined to manage the situation and help her husband adapt the life in Civvy Street until events take a dramatic turn and Alex turns on her imprisoning her so that there are no witnesses to her injuries When Ben takes ill he refuses to let her go to hospital with him an act of extreme cruelness for a worried mother At this point Juliet realises that if she stays with Alex she and Ben will never be safeThe second part of the book entitled ‘Retreat’ sees Juliet stealthily making plans to escape from Alex accepting advice and ultimately help from on online forum supporting the victims of abuse She flees with Ben to a remote cottage their place of safety hiding her tracks deleting her online history and breathing a sigh of relief Surely she and Ben will be safe from Alex?What happens next is truly horrific terrifying and ugly Alex vows not to let her escape and he deploys plans of his own using his specialist Army skills in tracking to ensure that he will get Ben back home I’m not going to tell any of the story but secrets are revealed and this sets up an explosive climax to this harrowing story of betrayal abuse disloyalty and evilnessThe characterisation is excellent I felt sorry for Alex who was haunted by the horrors of the war crimes against humanity he had witnessed on the battlefield he was plagued by memories of abuse and paternal bullying in his childhood and even though he clearly adored his mother he had the feeling that she should have stepped in to protect him He was confused and could not think rationally All the same he was totally psychotic out of control and relentless in achieving what he wanted Juliet to some extent did not realise the pressure Alex felt to provide for the life she yearned for She was damaged and had been out of control as well She was feisty and determined She had her own agenda but certainly did not deserve to be treated so brutally and totally without empathy I cared about these characters especially Ben only five years old and unable to verbalise his fears but show his deep distress and unhappiness by being mean at school lying and bedwetting He too was confused he couldn’t work out who was the bad guy in what was happening but he certainly didn’t like it at all I feared for one and all worried about what would happen nextI loved this novel and know this will feature in my top picks for 2014 Well done Elizabeth I can’t wait until your next novel is in my handsThanks to Hatty and Cutting Edge Press for sending this wonderful novel for me to review and to Elizabeth Forbes for inviting me to be one of her first readers Who Are You? by Elizabeth Forbes is published in June by Cutting Edge Press and is her second novel I reviewed her first; Nearest Thing to Crazy on Random Things in June 2013Who are you? That is the ultimate uestion Who are you and what did you do with my husband? For Juliet that is the uestion that keeps repeating itself over and over in her headJuliet and Alex are two people who really should never have met and married Troubled scarred by life and broken inside theirs is a match that can range from the delights of heaven to the absolute terror that is hell on earthAlex was a serving soldier Juliet is his wife; a stay at home Mum a creator of a beautiful home the mother of his son BenAlex is cruel to Juliet He is a sadistic bastard who appears to take pleasure in inflicting as much pain as he can both physically and emotionally Alex is a gentleman a great host a good neighbour Alex is two men and Juliet is never uite sure which Alex she will wake up besideJuliet herself is damaged broken a little bit twisted Juliet knows just how to make Alex suffer too A toy gun for their son a war film on DVD these are triggers that will reduce Alex to a vulnerable shaking wreck and Juliet has been hurt enough by Alex to get pleasure from his painReaders of Elizabeth Forbes' previous novel; the incredible Nearest Thing to Crazy may be expecting another psychological thriller Who Are You is very different it's in a league of its own and yet again Elizabeth Forbes has created a cleverly woven story that grips the reader right by the throatWho Are You is dark incredibly dark It is uncomfortable it made my heart race so much that I broke out into a sweat It is a study of the human brain and of how the horrors of past experiences can burn themselves into the back of the eyeballs and onto the brain and never ever go awayI am in awe of Elizabeth Forbes Her writing is chillingly unsettling; tense and so cleverly paced Prepare yourself to be consumed by this story to be terrified and at the same time to empathise with the hidden victims of other people's actionsA triumph Publication Date Available now from Cutting Edge PressThank you to the author and publisher for the review copyI read Elizabeth Forbes debut novel “Nearest Thing to Crazy” and loved it dearly but with “Who Are You” Ms Forbes has upped the ante and given us an edgy chilling and absorbing story much darker in tone but eually addictive that will leave you reelingIt is always terribly difficult to review a novel that is as utterly captivating as this one is – especially when the subject matter is one close to the heart of some real life issues – and captures the essence of trauma so perfectly that you just know every single thing here could absolutely be true The most emotional thing for me was the real authenticity the tale as a whole had – the basis of it being how you can lose someone completely even as they are standing right next to youAlex and Juliet found each other two people who were escaping difficult times got married and were seemingly set for Happy Ever After Then Alex returns from war a changed man Violent and unpredictable it makes Juliet fear for her life and for her son yet she cannot uite bring herself to leave As she seeks solace online events begin to spiral out of control and she realises that she cannot stay for love aloneExtremely cleverly constructed – getting the point of view as we do from both Juliet and Alex – the line drawn between what Juliet does and what Alex perceives gives the whole thing an added depth and it is page turning stuff Brutal in places this is not always easy reading but it is ever compelling and absolutely captures the realities behind PTSD and all its conseuences The characters live and breathe inside your head and the moral compass is blurred I often felt sorry for Alex despite his actions and also uite often disliked Juliet intensely despite what she is going through As in real life right and wrong are not always clear cut Completely fascinated even during the heart stopping moments I could barely look awayOverall this is superb Yes its a psychological thriller in many ways – it twists away and turns things around on you – but the soul of it is something very different A tale of the human spirit this one will stay with you long after finishing itNot to be missedHappy Reading Folks
- 320 pages
- Who Are You?
- Elizabeth Forbes
- 20 August 2016 Elizabeth Forbes