In this domestic thriller debut, a woman with post-traumatic amnesia struggles to regain her memories only to realize that perhaps ignorance was bliss.
After 55-year-old Joanne Harding tumbles down the stairs and strikes her head, she’s distraught to discover that she has forgotten the past year. The last thing the former stay-at-home mom remembers is being sad that her youngest child, Fin, has gone off to college, leaving her with an empty nest; according to her husband, Rob, though, that happened a year ago. Rob insists that everything is fine and nothing significant has transpired, but when Fin and his sister, Sash, come over for dinner the next night, it’s obvious to Jo that Rob is lying to her and that he’s ordered their children to do the same. Jo starts digging to uncover the truth, but the more she learns about her missing months, the more convinced she becomes that her family members aren’t the only ones keeping secrets. British author Reynolds uses lush, evocative prose and a first-person, present-tense narration to create an immersive tale that’s fueled by anxiety and dread. Chapters set in the present are interspersed with flashbacks, tension mounting as the storylines converge, but while Reynolds’ structure is elegant and her plotting is precise, the book’s interpersonal conflict feels soapy and manufactured.
What begins as an intriguing twist on a tired trope ultimately falls prey to ill-defined stakes and underdeveloped characters.