A HUGE thank you to Quercus Books, Netgalley and author Sonia Velton for the privilege of receiving an advance copy of this amazing book.
STELLA and CONNIE are strangers, brought together by two traumatic events – cruel twists of fate that happen thousands of miles apart.
Stella lives with her mother, a smothering narcissist. When she succumbs to dementia, the pressures on Stella’s world intensify, culminating in tragedy. As Stella recovers from a near fatal accident, she feels compelled to share her trauma but she finds talking difficult. In her head she confides in Connie because there’s no human being in the world that she feels closer to.
Connie is an expat living in Dubai with her partner, Mark, and their two children. On the face of it she wants for nothing and yet … something about life in this glittering city does not sit well with her. Used to working full time in a career she loves back in England, she struggles to find meaning in the expat life of play-dates and pedicures.
Two women set on a collision course. When they finally link up, it will not be in a way that you, or I, or anyone would ever have expected.
- Publisher : Quercus; 1st edition (July 22, 2021)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1529406498
- ISBN-13 : 978-1529406498
I was thrilled to receive a copy of this contemporary upmarket thriller. Although I hadn’t read anything by Sonia Velton, I knew by the standard of the writing and pace it would be an enjoyable read. The plot follows two points of view, Stella and Connie — one living in England and the other an expat mother living in Dubai. I had no idea how these two lives would intersect, but I did get the sense the book would touch on many relevant and soul destroying issues.
Stella, a recluse after a near fatal accident, is healing slowly. Even makeup can’t cover the scars on her face or the fractured stranger she has become. She misses going to the library, a connection to the outside world. She has little in common with Connie, a happily married mother of two living in the UAE. Stella, written in first person narrative, confides in Connie through her thoughts, and at the same time struggles with the abuse she receives from her controlling mother. She watches Connie through the lens of social media — a privileged housewife who seems to have everything. But as the dual narrative unravels, it’s easy to see how underneath it all both women are shackled to disillusionment, their lives eroding with each page.
Connie is a mother and a wife. Her feelings of isolation are due to Mark working late and somewhat disengaged with the kids. She feels unsupported and that their once close solid relationship is unravelling. One perfect example is the school fete where Mark, partly due to a work-do hangover, is desperate to leave. Rosamie, the Filipino nanny, is working to pay for Gabriel’s education. With Marijo in trouble comes another set of problems for Rosamie. Even with the kafala system being reformed, it can’t protect all the migrant workers against abuse. But Stella has an idea. For me, this provided a tinge of excitement, a possible turning point.
What bond or common heritage do these women share? A tragic and yet inspiring read that is dedicated to an astonishingly brave woman. The compassion the reader has for each character is the mark of excellent writing and the tension kept me engaged till the emotional end.
About the Author
Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being an expat Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives in Kent.
Her first novel, BLACKBERRY AND WILD ROSE was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, long-listed for the HWA Debut Crown and has been optioned for film.
Her second book, THE IMAGE OF HER, is a literary thriller about two women whose lives come together in a way that is both chilling and awe-inspiring.
Other books by Sonia Velton