Book review: The Other Child by Lucy Atkins

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 Permalink

One of my favourite books of 2014 was the debut novel by journalist and author Lucy Atkins. The Missing One was about a woman’s search to understand more about her distant mother after her passing. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed, it as much of the novel focussed on whales and the tracking of pods. And well… when it comes to flora and fauna I’m frighteningly (though happily) ignorant.

Her second novel features some similar elements. Not the whales this time, but it again centres on someone uncovering the past of one they love… which will ultimately change the way they view the person they thought they knew.

The blurb

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house, Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg’s work is all-consuming and, as the baby’s birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery . . .

the other child

My thoughts

I need to start by confessing that I’d actually been trying to read another book when I opened this on my iPad reader. And it was like a breath of fresh air. It’s not perfect of course, but I read it in a sitting (and skipped dinner to do so!).

We only meet Tess, Greg and Joe once they’ve all moved to the US. We don’t see much of Greg and view him mostly through Tess’s own eyes and through her own perception of what’s happening around them.

Soon after her arrival in the US Tess discovers someone is sending threatening notes to Greg and she sets out to discover more about his past. He lost his family many years before and he’s been loath to talk about them. The threat to her family and Greg’s reluctance to share his history however has her wondering how well she knows the man she married and what secrets he’s keeping.

It’s hard to talk too much about the book without giving too much away. Atkins does a great job of taking readers on a roller coaster of an emotional journey. Tess makes all sorts of assumptions, and we join her in leaping to conclusions only to discover we may well be wrong. I liked Tess but did sometimes find her character a tad rigid. I think Atkins has written her that way on purpose and because of that I was a little torn about her stance in the end.

It’s a novel of suspense which forces us to accept that secrets might not always be sinister and that people aren’t always beyond redemption. It’s also one which has had me pondering on it long after I turned the final page.

The Other Child by Lucy Atkins was released via Quercus Books in June 2015.

I received an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

  • maxtheunicorn
    August 18, 2015

    This one sounds intriguing! I’m well impressed you can read an entire book in one sitting. I take about a month lol. I’ve had about two months break from reading but this makes me want to start again!

    • Debbish
      August 19, 2015

      Ah yes… I’m a fairly quick reader anyway, but if I’m really enjoying something I won’t put it down. (Or I’ll put it down to eat and cook and then come back to it!)

  • Stormi D Johnson
    August 18, 2015

    Sounds like a good read and not heard of this author, so it’s going on my list. 🙂

    • Debbish
      August 19, 2015

      She’s English and still relatively I guess Stormi. This one didn’t pop up on my NetGalley feed until after its publication so I was a latecomer to it!

  • Red Iza
    August 19, 2015

    Unknow to me author but great review, I have a soft spot for books including family secrets 🙂

    • Debbish
      August 19, 2015

      Both her first book and this one very much feature family secrets…

  • Emma
    August 19, 2015

    I enjoyed this, though wasn’t too keen on the ending. Definitely a page turner until then though!

    • Debbish
      August 19, 2015

      I was a bit the same re the end Emma and thought Tess was a bit harsh…

  • Jess
    August 21, 2015

    Ohh sounds interesting for sure!

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