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"I haven't given up on you and I'm not going to. It's time to stop playing hard to get now..."
The Bed I Made, is the second novel by Lucie Whitehouse, author of 'The House At Midnight' and the story centres around Kate, an English/French translator who ends up fleeing her life in London and taking up residence on the Isle of Wight.
The reason she does this is due to the break up of her relationship with her boyfriend Richard. A relationship which lasted eighteen months before Kate brought it to an end after discovering all was not exactly as she believed it to be.
Kate became involved very quickly with Richard after meeting him in a Soho bar whilst out with a friend one evening and she acts on impulse, barely hesitating before going home with him.
Attractive, but also as it turns out, very dangerous, Kate had no way of knowing just how much she would come to regret becoming involved with him, until she begins to fear for her safety and ends up fleeing to the Isle of Wight.
At first Kate ignores the calls, texts and emails, but Richard refuses to be ignored and as Kate slowly comes to realise, he isn't going to let her go. By ending the relationship, Kate had hoped that would be the end of it, however, it was only the beginning...
It was after reading a review of this novel that I decided it may be one which I would enjoy and so I ordered a copy from Amazon to take away on holiday with me.
The Bed I Made is an atmospheric thriller which builds slowly throughout. From the first page I was gripped by both the story and the writing style of the author, which reminded me a little of Maggie O'Farrell.
Most of the story is set upon the Isle of Wight in the winter months and I particularly enjoyed how the author slowly introduces you to the place through Kate's eyes, contrasting the differences between the summer and winter months on the island.
Kate spent happy holidays on the island with her family when she was younger in summer months and finding it all so different during the winter to what she can recall, makes her feel alone and nostalgic, but also gives her time to reflect on the events of the last eighteen months which are slowly revealed to the reader, allowing you to build up a picture of the character of Richard and why Kate ended their relationship.
Kate slowly adapts to her life in a rented cottage, where she can continue to work on translating books from English to French. She also begins working in a cafe and forges a couple of new friendships with some of the locals, as well as taking up sailing.
Kate struggles from time to time though despite changing her phone number, as every now and then there will be an email from Richard which Kate deletes at first, but then finds herself opening them and the threat of Richard seeking her becomes more ominous - "I'm enjoying our game sweetheart " is typical of Richard's chilling words on the screen, as Kate finds she cannot resist opening his emails, fearful that he has found her once more.
Kate also becomes intrigued by the apparent suicide of local woman Alice Frewin, whom Kate had actually encountered and spoke to on her first days on the island and as she gets to know Alice's husband Peter, once again Kate finds herself wondering if things are exactly as they seem.
I did question at first if a woman in Kate's state of mind would really be finding herself concerned about the disappearance of a woman she spoke to briefly, but it was quite an interesting sideline to the main story which tied in well as it turned out and is perhaps another example of how well written this book is.
I also enjoyed the characters of Chris, a second-hand book shop owner who befriends Kate, and Sally, a local woman whose actions appear quite strange at times along with those of her son Tom, who seems stranger still.
The descriptions of the Isle of Wight during the winter were really interesting to read and whilst not overly described, were just enough to maintain the eerie atmospheric feel throughout the book. This is certainly no fast-paced thriller, but is still a real page turner. I became totally absorbed from start to finish and if I had been reading this at home would possibly have read it in one day. As I was on holiday this wasn't possible, however, I still managed to read this in a couple of days and was sorry when it ended.
I can recall reading the novel 'Sleeping With The Enemy' prior to its film release and the atmospheric, slow-building scary feel I remember from reading it is something I experienced once again when reading this book. You just know Richard is going to turn up sooner or later, but you have no idea when or where.
There are a few clever moments here which build up the tension, particularly one involving Helen, Kate's friend back in London and as the menacing character of Richard is anything but straight-forward, there is plenty to keep you guessing. The author has developed a character in Richard which alternates from totally charming to utterly terrifying, which allows you to understand why Kate was taken in by him for so long and how once he has got inside her head, he isn't going to go away.
I think the author has done her research well for this book. The characters are all believable and nothing appears to be far-fetched. Whether I was reading about Kate establishing her new life on the island or the darker moments when she would receive an email, it was all equally interesting and I had the feeling throughout that something bad was waiting just around the corner.
I loved this book. As an eerie slow-building psychological thriller, 'The Bed I Made' ticks all the right boxes and I was sad when I reached the end. If Lucie Whitehouse writes more novels as good as this one, then I have found a new author to love!
On an impulse night out in Soho with a friend, Kate meets Richard. Attractive, intelligent and sexy, Kate feels a connection to him immediately and would do almost anything for him. Eighteen months later, the relationship is over and Kate is fleeing London for the Isle of Wight, desperate to escape him and determined to get on with her life without him.
However, Richard is not going to let Kate forget him that easily, and soon the island where she hoped would give her sanctuary soon feels like a prison as the threat of Richard creeps closer and closer still...
Having not heard anything either way about this book before I bought it, I picked it up on a whim during the "buy one get one free" offer at Tescos. I found the back cover blurb intriguing and also noticed it was to be featured on "The TV Book Club" which I also liked to watch. What followed from starting this was surprising and overall I am glad I picked it up.
At first I found the thought of a story being based on the Isle of Wight a little odd and I wondered how the author would make it work. Not knocking the Isle of Wight at all (I live in Portsmouth and personally love the Isle of Wight) a story set there in winter seemed like it would be very dull indeed with very little actually happening! In actual fact, this seems exactly why Kate's story is based here. What happens is that the desolate place that the Isle of Wight becomes during the winter worked in the authors favour for several reasons.
Firstly, the lack of anything to do gives Kate time to brood on her situation with Richard which she would never have in another, busier town. The back-story of Kate and Richard is fed to the reader in small chunks whilst she is sat alone and thinking of her past. These small titbits of her relationship with Richard built up a picture of exactly when things changed and why she is just so terrified of Richard, making me understand exactly why she felt the need to flee.
Secondly, the Isle of Wight takes on its own personality, and almost becomes a character itself with its brooding weather and silent, desolate town. It is hard not to feel an impending sense of doom whilst reading about Kate surroundings, the howling wind, empty coastline and the secondary story of a local woman missing helps to create a superbly atmospheric story which I cannot imagine working any other way than on the Isle of Wight!
I have to also give complete credit to the way in which the story and tension builds. I was left utterly impressed with the way in which the characters and story developed - everything was done with such subtlety and is so understated but yet remains powerfully frightening at the same time. Upon reading the first couple of chapters, I thought it might take me a bit to get into the story as I couldn't quite grasp the need for the local woman in Kates tale. (Although not linked, by the end of the book I enjoyed this secondary thread although I still feel like this story was not entirely necessary to the overall plot and would not have been missed if the author had left it out completely.)
However, the way in which Kate seemed immediately terrified of Richard finding her was enough to keep me reading and as the chapters progressed, I felt myself stepping into Kates shoes and feeling the utter horror and dread that Kate felt every time she received a text or email from him. I am amazed at how clever the author has been in keeping me as a reader terrified of a character that really isn't properly introduced into the present day story until a while into the book!
I found Kates character completely believable, despite being drip-fed her reasons for running from Richard for most of the book and therefore not fully understanding why she is running, I felt myself reacting the same way she did to any contact from Richard or responding in the same way she did to the events around her. Perhaps my only criticism was within her relationship with her best friend, Helen. I really didn't understand why she didn't confide in her about what Richard had done to her and it was one of those frustrating moments similar to those you get when the heroine runs upstairs in a house whilst being chased by an axe-murder - I just wanted to shout - why? That's the worst Idea ever!! Having said that, the author did make a good go of explaining that the friends relationship was strained due to Richard's interference, but it still wasn't enough for me. Such a little thing in such a great book doesn't spoil my enjoyment however so it's only a small gripe!
I also grew to not only feel empathy for Kate, but to also like her for establishing her life on the Island. Upon arriving, her loneliness is only further emphasised by the small community where Kate seems to be even more isolated in the world than before. However, with the introduction of a few key characters, it makes the present day story of Kate determined to start afresh an interesting one.
What an intriguing and scary character Richard was - one that was very well thought out indeed and probably the most interesting of them all in the story. It is clear to me that the author, Lucie Whitehouse, has either had some kind of experience or has researched thoroughly of psychopathic behaviour (because quite frankly, that is the only way to describe his behaviour!) and I felt that she managed to make this utterly gripping whilst also completely true to what could happen in real life. I found myself disgusted, horrified, amazed and charmed (at times) by his behaviour and felt that he was described in such a way that I could see exactly why Kate had found him appealing and why she now found him terrifying.
This book, quite simply is one that has stayed with me. I found it an extremely emotional read and it is the kind of book that creeps up on you - I have since read a review where someone commented that it was "A page turner, that actually leaves you worrying if you put the book down, as what will Richard do next to infiltrate Kate's life and most of all her mind." This is exactly how I felt, and I had to keep slowing myself down to read every word, as I had that feeling of urgency for a lot of the book, wanting to escape Richard myself, or wanting that final moment to come so that I knew exactly where he was and what he was going to do! Now, after feeling like that, how could I not give this book a full five stars? Intense, emotional, gripping and satisfying. Superb.