I was worried The Running Club by Ali Lowe would be a bit like books about motherhood – featuring cliquey groups to whom I can not relate. I know people ‘inside’ of those groups don’t see the fact that they can be exclusive, but those ‘outside’ certainly do. Casual discussions about times and pacers and the like are similar to those about school drop-offs, P & C committees or playdates, for those of us on the ‘outside’.
However, though the club itself is how these meet – like The Trivia Night in Lowe’s first novel – merely a vehicle or way in which to bind a group of disparate people together in a way that isn’t natural so ultimately explodes before hopefully recovering and re-forming (in more ways than one!).The Running Club
by Ali Lowe
Published by Hachette Austrralia
Source: Hachette Australia
The rules of the running club are the same as they have always been: keep your breath steady, keep your mind sharp, record your laps! Only now there's a new one: don't get killed.
The wealthy community of Esperance is picture-perfect. Big houses, stunning views, beautiful people. A brand new running track for the local club to jog around in the evenings. From the outside, it looks like paradise.
But the women of the town know the truth: you can hide anything - from wrinkles to secrets from your past - if you have enough money.
You could even hide a murder.
Lowe gives us a few cliched characters here, but I think it works and they avoid becoming caricatures.
This unfolds from all four women’s points of view. Carole was born into money and seems to get everything she wants – even the high school heart throb who ditched his then girlfriend (Shelby) to satisfy his ambition. We’re reminded that the world can be a small place because Shelby’s twin sister, Lottie – who also moved up in the work thanks to her obstetrician husband – is now Carole’s best friend. It means that Carole and Shelby’s paths cross. Often. And Shelby herself married a tech genius so she’s joined Carole and Lottie in ritzy Esperance. And the fourth of our narrators is Freya, a childhood friend of Lottie but whose family moved to the posh side of the tracks when she was still at school.
We also meet their husbands and learn that some ARE happily married and some SEEM happily married. And then there are those who happily tell us their marriage is on the rocks and they have no plans to save it.
Lowe opens this in the present-ish, with the death of one of the group. We don’t know who of course and we’re then taken back in time six weeks. In some ways those weeks unfold as they normally would. With the running group catching up in dribs and drabs and monitoring each others’ runs and routes online. There’s no single event or catalyst that unravels the group, rather it’s a series of things – a slow burn that’s been festering away for years. And to give us a better sense of that, we spend some time with our key players as teenagers.
I enjoyed this read and didn’t really guess who was going to be the victim. I mean there are several candidates but things pan out in a way I didn’t expect with secrets (I didn’t see coming) being revealed.
Like Lowe’s first book this would be a great bookclub selection because of the many MANY moral dilemmas on offer and most people would certainly see elements of themselves – or those they know – in the characters (for better or worse).
The Running Club by Ali Lowe was published in Australia Hachette Australia and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.