Publication Date: 15th August 2018
Publisher: No Exit Press
I closed this book in a kind of wonderment. What had I just experienced? And it is just that, an experience to read this book.
Even now I’m unsure what I have read. In a good way. In a cracking way! I feel like I’ve been duped, hoodwinked, led down a deliciously long complex path full of twists and turns….
So what on earth is it all about you say?!
Well, our protagonist is Jean Mason, the owner of a book shop called Bookstore. She has a husband called Ian and two sons Reid and Nick. One day whilst working at the book shop, one of her longstanding customers comes in and says he has just seen her in the market and she didn’t acknowledge him. She also had shorter hair. Jean tells the man this is impossible and that she has been in the bookshop the whole time.
The man becomes quite agitated, convinced the woman he has seen is Jean. There is a slight altercation and the customer leaves. Leaving Jean a little bewildered.
Later, Jean has another strange visitor to the bookshop convinced that Jean is the doppelgänger of another woman who is seen in the market and around Bellevue Square by the name of Ingrid.
The thought that she may have a doppelgänger, someone out there looking exactly like her (bar the hair) fascinates Jean and she starts hanging around the square hoping to catch a glimpse. She begins interacting with the people who regularly frequent the square and the park, the misfits, the alcoholics, the drug users, the mentally ill. They are all also sure they have seen Jean’s doppelgänger.
Jean becomes obsessed with locating Ingrid and the very idea consumes her. When her obsession and apparent unease begins to show at home, her husband Ian becomes increasingly worried about Jean’s mental state given that she has been prone to depression in the past.
From here, Jean’s life begins to spiral out of control quite dramatically. And the reader is taken on one hell of a journey with her. Both inside and outside of her head.
This book is riddled with unreliable narrators not least Jean herself. I am a huge fan of an unreliable narrator. I like to be kept guessing and boy does this book keep you guessing.
Just when you think you might have a handle on what’s going on, you fall down yet another rabbit hole, and begin to question everything you’ve read so far.
As I said at the start, this book is more like an experience. A real thinker. I was wrong footed and set off kilter a fair few times throughout. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything in quite the same vein before.
A gripping, compelling story of the complexities of mental illness with a dark sinister almost claustrophobic edge.
I really enjoyed it and if you fancy getting your hands on something unique, I would highly recommend it.
Thank you to Anne Cater and No Exit Press for the review copy.
See you soon.
Bookish Chat xxx