In this sixth novel by one of our very own queens of psychological family drama, Nicole Trope brings to life what it’s like to walk in the shoes of two tormented women for a while, masterfully creating a narrative of unexpressed despair and hopelessness.
As the blurb alludes to, there has been a tragic accident and best friends, Caro and Anna are brought in for questioning. Over the next two days and, told in alternating chapters, these two women will lay bare their souls as they are interrogated by detectives in a bid to find out exactly what happened. But who is telling the truth? And who is going to take the blame!
A reader tends to be moved by a story when they feel that they are living in the world of that story, allowing them to experience the character’s struggle and, it’s the mark of a good author if they can extract a range of emotions and feelings from me. Nicole Trope did just that, evoking a mixture of sympathy, disbelief, antipathy, doubt, contempt and exasperation in me for both Caro and Anna who are seriously flawed human beings.
Although I didn’t particularly like Caro, I had even more disregard for Anna and felt that she wasn’t deserving of my empathy – even though, at times, I found myself floundering between kinship, sheer frustration and anger at the resentment and bitterness that she displays. Her bemoaning in particular is hard to swallow but really, what do I know? I’ve not had to live her life so who am I to judge!
It’s a book I was totally absorbed in, despite my inner storm, and I was in awe of the way Nicole manipulates tension, keeping her plot tight and the reader engaged by exacerbating the internal conflict with the external.
Nicole touches on mental health issues triggered by a variety of other historical situations the characters found themselves facing, including the stillbirth of a child (I only mention this as a subtle warning to those who have lived and currently live with the loss of a baby), as well as a severe case of autism which in turn leads us into the territory of alcoholism and its effects, not only on the person affected but also their family and friends.
A compelling psychological drama about best friends caught between family and friendship, envy, truth and lies and what happens when the lies begin to unravel, Blame shifts between sheer anguish and an uneasy mystery, is brutally honest, thought-provoking and somewhat disquieting. Do yourself a favour and put it on your reading list.
I wish to thank Allen & Unwin for providing me with a hard copy for review.
About the Author
In 2005 she was one of the winners of the Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development. In 2009 her young adult novel titled I Ran Away First was shortlisted for the Text Publishing Prize.
Blame is Nicole's sixth novel. Her previous titles include the acclaimed The Boy Under The Table, Three Hours Late, The Secrets in Silence, and Hush, Little Bird.
About the Book
A tender and terrifying page-turner from the master of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama.
'If you love writers such as Jodi Picoult, Nicole may just be your cup of tea.' The Hoopla
'I am here because they suspect me of something. I am here because I am a suspect. I know that, she knows that. Everyone knows that.' Anna
'It wasn't my fault. None of this is my fault!' Caro
Caro and Anna are best friends... they were best friends. Over a decade, Caro and Anna have bonded while raising their daughters, two little girls the same age but living two very different lives. The women have supported each other as they have shared the joys and trials of motherhood, but now everything has changed.
There's been a terrible car accident, an unimaginable tragedy that leaves both families devastated. Over two days, as Caro and Anna each detail their own versions of events, they are forced to reveal hidden truths and closely guarded secrets.
The complicated lives of wives and mothers are laid bare as both women come to realise that even best friends don't tell each other everything. And when hearts are broken, even best friends need someone to blame.
A hard-hitting, provocative and gripping read from the queen of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama.
Published: July 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia
RRP: Paperback - $29.99