One of The Washington Post's 10 Best Thrillers and Mysteries of the Year
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year
One of Real Simple's Best Books of the Year
On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they've just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it's your house. And you didn't sell it.
When Fiona Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband, Bram, have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years; how can another family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared--along with their two young children--when she needs him most?
As the nightmare takes hold, Fiona begins to untangle the lies that led to a devastating crime--and a betrayal so shocking it will teach her to keep her own secrets behind locked doors....
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Friday, January 13, 2017
London, 12:30 p.m.
She must be mistaken, but it looks exactly as if someone is moving into her house.
The van is parked halfway down Trinity Avenue, its square mouth agape, a large piece of furniture sliding down the ribbed metal tongue. Fi watches, squinting into the buttery sunlight-rare for the time of year, a gift-as the object is borne shoulder high by two men through the gate and down the path.
My gate. My path.
No, that's illogical; of course it can't be her house. It must be the Reeces', two down from hers; they put their place on the market in the autumn and no one is quite sure whether a sale has gone through. The houses on this side of Trinity Avenue are all built the same-redbrick double-fronted Edwardians in pairs, their owners united in a preference for front doors painted black-and everyone agrees it's easy to miscount.
Once, when Bram came stumbling home from one of his "quick" drinks at the Two Brewers, he went to the wrong door and she heard through the open bedroom window the scrambling and huffing as her inebriated husband failed to fit his key into the lock of number 87, Merle and Adrian's place. His persistence was staggering, his dogged belief that if he only kept on trying, the key would work.
"But they all look the same," he'd protested in the morning.
"The houses, yes, but even a drunk couldn't miss the magnolia," Fi had told him, laughing. (This was back when she was still amused by his inebriety and not filled with sadness-or disdain, depending on her mood.)
Her step falters: the magnolia. It's a landmark, their tree, a celebrated sight when in blossom and beautiful even when bare, as it is now, the outer twigs etched into the sky with an artist's flair. And it is definitely in the front garden of the house with the van outside.
Think. It must be a delivery, something for Bram that he hasn't mentioned to her. Not every detail gets communicated; they both accept that their new system isn't flawless. Hurrying again, using her fingers as a sun visor, she's near enough to be able to read the lettering on the side of the vehicle: prestige home removals. It is a house move, then. Friends of Bram must be dropping something off en route to somewhere. If she were able to choose, it would be an old piano for the boys (please, Lord, not a drum kit).
But wait-the deliverymen have reappeared and now more items are being transported from van to house: a dining chair; a large, round metallic tray; a box labeled fragile; a small, slim wardrobe the size of a coffin. Whose things are these? A rush of anger fires her blood as she reaches the only possible conclusion: Bram has invited someone to stay. Some dispossessed drinking pal, no doubt, with nowhere else to go. ("Stay as long as you like, mate-we've got tons of room.") When the hell was he going to tell her? Well, there's no way a stranger is sharing their home, however temporarily, however charitable Bram's intentions. The kids come first: Isn't that the point?
Lately, she worries they've forgotten the point.
She's almost there. As she passes number 87, she's aware of Merle at the first-floor window, face cast in a frown, arm raised for her attention. Fi makes only the briefest of acknowledgments as she strides through her own gate and onto the tiled path.
"Excuse me. What's going on here?" But in the clamor no one seems to hear. Louder now, sharper: "What are you doing with all this stuff? Where's Bram?"
A woman she doesn't know comes out of the house and stands on the doorstep, smiling. "Hello, can I help?"
She gasps as if at an apparition. This is Bram's friend in need? Familiar by type rather than feature, she is one of Fi's own-though younger, in her thirties-blond and brisk and cheerful, the sort to roll up her sleeves and take charge. The sort, as history testifies, to constrain a free spirit like Bram. "I hope so, yes. I'm Fi, Bram's wife. What's going on here? Are you . . . are you a friend of his?"
The woman steps closer, purposeful, polite. "Sorry. Whose wife?"
"Bram's. I mean ex-wife, really." The correction earns a curious look, followed by the suggestion that the two of them move off the path and out of the way of "the guys." As a huge Bubble Wrapped canvas glides by, Fi allows herself to be steered under the ribs of the magnolia. "What on earth has he agreed to here?" she demands. "Whatever it is, I know nothing about it."
"I'm not sure what you mean." There is a faint puckering of the woman's forehead as she studies Fi. Her eyes are golden brown and honest. "Are you a neighbor?"
"No, of course not." Fi is becoming impatient. "I live here."
The puckering deepens. "I don't think so. We're just moving in. My husband will be here soon with the second van. We're the Vaughans?" She says it as though Fi might have heard of them, even offers her hand for a formal shake. "I'm Lucy."
Gaping, Fi struggles to trust her ears, the false messages they are transmitting to her brain. "Look, I'm the owner of this house, and I think I would know if I'd arranged to rent it out."
The rose-pink of confusion creeps over Lucy Vaughan's face. She lowers her hand. "We're not renting it. We've bought it."
"Don't be ridiculous!"
"I'm not!" The other woman glances at her watch. "Officially, we became the new owners at twelve o'clock, but the agent let us pick up the keys just before that."
"What are you talking about? What agent? No agent has keys to my house!" Fi's face spasms with conflicting emotions: fear; frustration; anger; even a dark, grudging amusement, because this must be a joke, albeit on an epic scale. What else can it be? "Is this some sort of prank?" She searches over the woman's shoulder for cameras, for a phone recording her bewilderment in the name of entertainment, but finds none-only a series of large boxes sailing past. "Because I'm not finding it very funny. You need to get these people to stop."
"I have no intention of getting them to stop," Lucy Vaughan says, crisp and decisive, just like Fi usually is when she hasn't been blindsided by something like this. Lucy's mouth turns in vexation before opening in sudden wonder. "Wait a minute. Fi, did you say? Is that Fiona?"
"Yes. Fiona Lawson."
"Then you must be-" Lucy pauses, notices the querying glances from the movers, lowers her voice. "I think you'd better come inside."
And Fi finds herself being ushered through her own door, into her own house, like a guest. She steps into the broad, high-ceilinged hallway and stops short, dumbstruck. This isn't her hall. The dimensions are correct, yes; the silver-blue paint scheme remains the same and the staircase has not moved; but the space has been stripped, plundered of every last item that belongs in it: the console table and antique monks bench, the heap of shoes and bags, the pictures on the walls. And her beloved rosewood mirror, inherited from her grandmother, gone! She reaches to touch the wall where it should be, as if expecting to find it sunk into the plaster.
"What have you done with all our things?" she demands of Lucy. Panic makes her strident and a passing mover casts her a correcting sort of look, as if she is the threatening one.
"I haven't done anything," Lucy says. "You moved your stuff out. Yesterday, I'm assuming."
"I did nothing of the sort. I need to look upstairs," Fi says, shouldering past her.
"Well . . ." Lucy begins, but it isn't a request. Fi isn't seeking permission to inspect her own home.
Having climbed the stairs two at a time, she pauses on the upstairs landing, hand still gripping the mahogany curve of the banister rail as if she expects the building to pitch and roll beneath her. She needs to prove to herself that she is in the right house, that she hasn't lost her mind. Good, all doors appear to lead to where they should: two bathrooms at the middle front and rear, two bedrooms on the left and two on the right. Even as she lets go of the banister and enters each room in turn, she still expects to see her family's possessions where they should be, where they've always been.
But there is nothing. Everything they own has vanished, not a stick of furniture left, only indentations in the carpet where twenty-four hours ago the legs of beds and bookcases and wardrobes stood. A bright green stain on the carpet in one of the boys' rooms from a ball of slime that broke open during a fight one birthday. In the corner of the kids' shower stands a tube of gel, the one with tea-tree oil-she remembers buying it at Sainsbury's. Behind the bath taps her fingers find the recently cracked tile (cause of breakage never established) and she presses until it hurts, checking she is still flesh and bone, nerve endings intact.
Everywhere, there is the sharp lemon smell of cleaning fluids.
Returning downstairs, she doesn't know whether the ache has its source inside her or in the walls of her stripped house.
At her approach, Lucy disbands a conference with two of the movers and Fi senses she has rejected their offer of help-to deal with her, the intruder. "Mrs. Lawson? Fiona?"
"This is unbelievable," Fi says, repeating the word, the only one that will do. Disbelief is all that's stopping her from hyperventilating, tipping into hysteria. "I don't understand this. Please, can you explain what the hell is going on here?"
"That's what I've been trying to do. Maybe if you see the evidence," Lucy suggests. "Come into the kitchen-we're blocking the way here."
The kitchen too is bare but for a table and chairs Fi has never seen before, and an open box of tea things on the worktop. Lucy is thoughtful enough to push the door to so as not to offend her visitor's eyes with the sight of the continuing invasion beyond.
"Look at these e-mails," Lucy says, offering Fi her phone. "They're from our solicitor, Emma Gilchrist at Bennett, Stafford and Co."
Fi takes the phone and orders her eyes to focus. The first e-mail is from seven days ago and appears to confirm the exchange of contracts on 91 Trinity Avenue, Alder Rise, between David and Lucy Vaughan and Abraham and Fiona Lawson. The second is from this morning and announces the completion of the sale.
"You called him Bram, didn't you?" Lucy says. "That's why it took me a minute to realize. Bram's short for Abraham, of course." She has a real letter at hand too, an opening statement of account from British Gas, addressed to the Vaughans at Trinity Avenue. "We set up all the utility bills to be paperless, but for some reason they sent this by post."
Fi returns the phone to her. "All of this means nothing. They could be fakes. Phishing or something."
"Yes, we had a whole talk about neighborhood crime a few months ago at Merle's house and the officer told us all about it. Fake e-mails and invoices look very convincing now. Even the experts can be taken in."
Lucy gives an exasperated half smile.
"They're real, I promise you. It's all real. The funds will have been transferred to your account by now."
"The money we paid for this house! I'm sorry, but I can't go on repeating this, Mrs. Lawson."
"I'm not asking you to," Fi snaps. "I'm telling you-you must have made a mistake. I'm telling you it's not possible for you to have bought a house that was never for sale."
"But it was for sale-of course it was. Otherwise, we could never have bought it."
Fi stares at Lucy, utterly disoriented. What she is saying, what she is doing, is complete lunacy and yet she doesn't look like a madwoman. No, Lucy looks like a woman convinced that the person she is talking to is the deranged one.
"Maybe you ought to phone your husband," Lucy says finally.
Geneva, 1:30 p.m.
He lies on the bed in his hotel room, arms and legs twitching. The mattress is a good one, designed to absorb sleeplessness, passion, deepest nightmare, but it fails to ease agitation like his. Not even the two antidepressants he's taken have subdued him.
Perhaps it's the planes making him crazy, the pitiless way they grind in and out, one after another, groaning under their own weight. More likely it's the terror of what he's done, the dawning understanding of all that he's sacrificed.
Because it's real now. The Swiss clock has struck. One thirty here, twelve thirty in London. He is now in body what he has been in his mind for weeks: a fugitive, a man cast adrift by his own hand. He realizes that he's been hoping there'll be, in some bleak way, relief, but now the time has come there is something bleaker: none. Only the same sickening brew of emotions he's felt since leaving the house early this morning, somehow both grimly fatalistic and wired for survival.
Oh, God. Oh, Fi. Does she know yet? Someone will have seen, surely? Someone will have phoned her with the news. She might even be on her way to the house already.
He shuffles upright, his back against the headboard, and tries to find a focus in the room. The armchair is red leatherette, the desk black veneer. A return to a 1980s aesthetic, more unsettling than it has any right to be. He swings his legs over the side of the bed. The flooring is warm on bare feet-vinyl or something else man-made. Fi would know what the material is; she has a passion for interiors.
The thought causes a spasm of pain, a new breathlessness. He rises, seeking air-the room, on the fifth floor, is ablaze with central heating-but behind the complicated curtain arrangement the windows are sealed. Cars, white and black and silver, streak along the carriageways between hotel and airport, and, beyond, the mountains divide and shelter, their white peaks tinged peppermint blue. Trapped, he turns once more to face the room, thinking, unexpectedly, of his father. His fingers reach for the red leatherette chair, grip the seat back. He does not remember the name of this hotel, which he chose for its nearness to the airport, but knows that it is as soulless a place as he deserves.
Because he's sold his soul, that's what he's done. He's sold his soul.
But not so long ago that he's forgotten how it feels to have one.
Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. Fi’s story is told in a podcast interview meant for public broadcast, while Bram’s is told in a written suicide confession intended for the police. Is either form inherently more trustworthy than the other?
2. Do you have sympathy for Bram’s predicament? Might he have handled the blackmailers’ demands differently?
3. Fi claims that 91 Trinity Avenue was the Lawson family’s “primary breadwinner” and “benign master.” Is the novel a cautionary tale about investing too much in our property—both financially and emotionally?
4. Alison, Merle, Kirsty, Polly, her mother: Fi’s network is almost entirely female and manifestly dynamic. Meanwhile, Bram comments that “in my experience men noticed very little” and jokes about his desire for a “prefeminist” partner. What point is the author making about modern male-female relationships?
5. What do you make of the bird’s nest custody arrangement? Were Bram and Fi being realistic in thinking it could work, even before the interference of Mike and Wendy? Do you know anyone who has had this co-parenting arrangement in real life? Was it successful?
6. Fi and Bram praise each other’s parenting skills and repeatedly claim to make important decisions with their sons in mind. Do events bear this out?
7. Did you enjoy the structure of the book? When Fi’s podcast interview ends and the crucial, astounding events of January 13 and 14 are revealed, were there any shocks or surprises?
8. The death that occurs in the couple’s flat is arguably the novel’s most serious crime. Did you anticipate it, and is it likely that the perpetrator(s) will go unpunished? Do you want the perpetrator(s) to be punished?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kept my attention to the very end!
Can you imagine coming home one day to find strangers moving into your home, and all of your belongings are gone? Well, that’s exactly what has happened to Fiona Lawson in “Our House”. She is confused as she didn't sell her house. Prior to this, Fiona and her soon to be ex-husband, Bram have been sharing custody of their boys, as well as their house at 91 Trinity Avenue. Whoever's turn it is to be with the children stays in the house with them while the other parent stays somewhere else. It’s a fairly new and unique way of doing things, called “ Bird’s nest custody”. Fiona has no idea what’s going on and she cannot contact Bram. His phone is out of service and she has no way to reach him. Where is he and worse, where are her children? What happens next is rather unbelievable, but this is fiction so just go with it. This was a very interesting story as well as a very unique way to tell it. There were alternate POVs from Fiona (Fi) and Bram as well as a podcast called "The Victim" that Fi participates in, and responses from listeners. After awhile, this became a bit tedious to me and I would have been fine if it had not continued throughout the story. I felt really bad for Fiona as this story unfolded. Bram made some mistakes and then was not man enough to face up to the consequences. He is an unlikable and unreliable narrator. His point of view is told through Word Documents. This was an interesting domestic thriller told using a very different format that had me breezing through some sections, and wanting to fast forward through others. However, when things picked up in the final third of the story, I was riveted. For the most part, the twists were well done and I enjoyed the story. I listened to this book and was pleased with the narration. I like when there are both male and female narrators in a story rather than trying to do voices for both sexes.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Told in two different formats that were unique and interesting. One was the transcript of sorts of a podcast that Fiona Lawson made about this incident that happened to her and the other was a word document that Abraham Lawson left behind. Sprinkled amongst these two formats were narration to help give a little context and help move the story along. Fiona Lawson approaches her house where she is "bird nesting" with her soon to be ex husband and finds all of her belongings gone and a new family moving in. She must quickly get to the bottom of this without the aid of this soon to be ex husband who has disappeared. What an interesting mystery!
I don't know where to begin. I absolutely loved this book. The story kept me on my toes. I found myself getting up early and staying up late to finish this book. Several times throughout the story I found myself with my jaw dropped and my eyes bulging out of their sockets. I cannot believe this would happen to a family. At the end when you think everything is going to be ok another bomb is dropped. If I could speak to the author I would beg for one more chapter, or just a couple more pages. When I read the last page, not realizing it was the last page, I turned the page and all I saw was a blank page. I silently screamed in my heard, "NO!". This was one great story I would definitely add to your to be read list
Our House by Louise Candlish is lively, fast moving entertainment jam packed with unusual methods of delivering its many bizarre plot twists. Readers get an inside look at the past and present lives of wife Fi via pod cast and husband Bram via the alleged suicide note he is leaving for his family as Candlish weaves together the story of their lives. This is one of those cautionary tales where no one is who they seem to be and the lies and deceptions are many. Our House is an absorbing book that will grab you from page one and hold you enthralled until the final scene. 4 1/2 stars
This book leaves you thinking. It is full of plot twists and plausible lies. One questions our blind faith in love and our trust of authority in the system
Going into this book I was expecting more of a suspensful thriller. But the reader knows from the beginning what crime has been committed: Fiona's dream house has been sold out from under her and her family, and she has no idea what it going on. The main action occurs over the course of the day that Fiona returns to her home after a trip to find strangers moving in. A great deal of the "backstory" is told through clever methods like Bram (Fiona's husband) writing a world document and Fiona telling her account of events in a podcast, complete with online readers and their comments. What makes this an interesting and compelling tale is finding out the why, who, and how of the events. Why was the Lawson home sold? Who is ultimately responsible? And how did those people make it happen? And in the final chapters, even when the reader thinks the mystery has been resolved, the author manages to throw in some surprises. When Fiona Lawson comes home on a Friday afternoon she sees strangers moving their furniture into her home. She cannot believe what she is seeing as she looks at her dream home, the center of her universe, devoid of all her possessions and trappings of her family's life there. Where is her husband? Where are her things? Are her children safe? Who does the house actually belong to? As Fiona attempts to find answers to these questions throughout the rest of the day and evening, the past is revealed through what appears to be a confession written by Fiona's husband Bram, as well as Fiona's appearance on a podcast for victims of crimes. We discover that the Lawsons were living with a "Bird's Nest" arrangement, in which the separated couple shared custody of their children by taking turns living in the family's house. We learn the circumstances that led to the couple's split and the events that caused the fraudulent "selling" of Fiona's beloved Trinity Avenue home. The author creates an engrossing tale of a family cracking at the seems; the wife who devotes herself to taking part in the community of their posh neighborhood while the husband chafes under the expectations of that life. One definitely feels for Fiona as she almost loses herself in her role of mother and wife while still working and participating in her sons' school and sports activities and keeping up with her neighbors. Bram struggles to find fulfillment with his job and home life while his wife seems completely occupied with her own life. There are plenty of twists and turns, but as I was reading I kept thinking, "Is there something else?" I just felt like another big shoe was supposed to drop, but it never came. Even as I got to the end of the book and things built to a climax I still felt as though something was missing. As I came to the final chapter I was thinking, "This was a good book. I enjoyed it. Yeah, it was nice." And then I read the last three sentences. Then I said, "He did what?!!" That was a great twist. So I would definitely recommend this book. It's a compelling story that builds to a great twist without relying on too much suspense. I loved it
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book. Ironically, I read this book just after watching a TV show about the housing crisis England is facing. After having seen that show, the plot of "Our House" didn't seem particularly farfetched to me. I can't say "Our House" was a great book, but it was well written (once you got used to the way the narrative jumps around) and held my interest. The narrative is nonlinear in nature and does take some getting used to.. View points jump from the day that Fi came home to find her house had been sold out from under her nose to Fi doing a web interview some months later, to a Word doc confession written by Bram while he's in hiding. The characters weren't overly likeable. Between the two leads, Bram came across as the deeper character. Fi seemed shallow and more concerned with how others saw her, or having the perfect, cookie-cutter life. Bram actually felt shame for what he did., as well he should. Not to give away any spoilers, but I did like the little twist at the end with the path that Fi's character took. I can't say that I particularly liked Bram's final entry, because the events it sets up will undoubtedly lead to Fi being found out. And, let's face it, when Fi did what she did, she did it to someone one who had it coming. I don't think it would have bothered me at all if she had got away with it. But then again, I do have a taste for the bloodthirsty at times.
What a thriller! I have to admit it's been a while since I've read a book with so many twists and turns, it kept me totally off balance. Fiona thinks she's doing the best for children while she and her husband Bram are going through a divorce. She's convinced herself she doing the right thing when in fact she's setting herself up for a total nightmare. Just when I think I know where this is going it's shifted to something entirely different, I loved the way the author weaved this nightmarish situation into something that is truly believable. Disclosure: I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My thanks to #NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review. Our House is told from the viewpoints of Fiona and Bram Lawson, a married-but-separated couple. The format of the storytelling is alternating between Fiona’s tale in the form of a podcast and Bram’s in what appears to be a word document. The story unfolds slowly then explodes into a furious bag of lies that throws everyone into turmoil. Fiona and Bram are experimenting with a “bird’s nest” agreement where the children stay in the home and the parents alternate staying with them. This custody arrangement gives the parents a little freedom to explore their own pursuits in a shared apartment. This civil arrangement seems to be going just fine until the day Fi comes home for her switch to find strangers moving into the house. Where are the kids? Where is her furniture? Where is Bram? Who are these people who say they just bought her house?? In the end, Fi discovers nothing is what she thought it was, and her idyllic life completely falls apart. This is one not to be missed.
Fiona (Fi) Lawson and her husband Bram have separated but are trying a "Bird's Nest" custody agreement in order to have shared parenting of their two boys. One parent is at an apartment while the other parent has their time with the kids at their enviable home in a well-known suburb. This way the kids are always at the house and the effort for stability is enforced as each parent takes turns between the house and the apartment. They try their best to keep everything together in a civil manner for the kids. That is until everything fell apart. One day Fi comes to the house for her turn with the kids but someone else is moving into her house and her husband and children are nowhere to be found. How can everything turn upside down in an instant? When the rug gets pulled out from under you by those you trust. This story is told through alternating perspectives between Fi in a podcast transcript format and Bram in a Word document. It was a unique way to read a story that I had not experienced before but once I got used to it, I enjoyed it. I honestly can't decide if I liked the comments that were added at the end of each segment of Fi's podcast with usernames and comments but they did eventually grow on me as the comments became funnier. It kind of reminded me of the comedian Jim Gaffigan and how he imitates what he thinks the audience thinks of him during his skits. It also reminded me somewhat of Shakespeare's use of the chorus as a character in some of his plays. Although some of the surprises were predictable, there is so much going on as the complex plot builds that it is almost a relief to have the main character, Fi, discover these secrets. The storyline accelerates as the pieces begin to fit together so, as a warning to my fellow readers, it is increasingly harder to put down the further into it you get. This is a twofold story about loyalty: between spouses and between friends. A balance between renewed faith and betrayal. I highly recommend it for adult readers that enjoy a thrilling plot and betrayal. For those who may be sensitive/triggered: there are themes of violence, murder, road rage, manipulation, fraud, adultery, sexually suggestive scenarios (mild), bullying, suicide, and alcohol abuse. Please note: an electronic ARC copy of this novel was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Fi Lawson has gone away for the weekend and comes back to find another couple moving into her house. It soon becomes clear that Fi's estranged husband, Bram, has sold the house without her knowledge. The reasons for this unfold through the voices of both Fi and Bram as well as through Fi telling the story on a podcast show. There is a lot of psychological tension that went on a bit too long, but the ending made those slow parts worthwhile. Actual rating 3.5 stars out of 5.
Author Louise Candlish takes readers on quite the ride as we watch Fiona and Bram Lawson’s lives spiral out of control. OUR HOUSE tells a tale of secrets, choices, and their devastating consequences, and the story and characters have stayed with me long after I read the last page. Overall, I enjoyed OUR HOUSE, but it is full of characters that I just did not like at all. Though I initially felt sorry for Fiona, it quickly became apparent that she was not simply an innocent victim, and I never felt anything but disgust for Bram and his circumstances. There is a nice twist part way through the story, but I kept waiting for a final big surprise that never materialized, leaving me somewhat unsatisfied. As outrageous as the story is, there is an element of plausibility that actually makes it unsettling. It is a bit frightening to think that a variation of what happened to the Lawsons really could transpire in real life. I recommend OUR HOUSE to readers who enjoy domestic thrillers. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
I loved the premise of Louise Candlish's new novel Our House. Our home is our sanctuary, a place you've made your own. What would you do if you came home to find a moving van? Not moving your stuff out - but moving another family in. A family that has what looks to be legitimate papers proving they've bought your house. That's what happens to Fiona Lawson and her estranged husband Bram. Oh, there are so many possibilities as to where this scenario could go! Candlish unfolds her story in an epistolary format, with Fiona's plight being recounted on a victims of crime podcast. I enjoyed the addition of comments from viewers. Bram's narrative is revealed through a word document he is writing. With the two stories running parallel, the reader is privy to what is happening and has happened to both Fiona Bram. Despite being the 'victim', I wasn't firmly in Fiona's corner. I thought she made some questionable decisions. And her 'house proud' attitude rubbed me the wrong way. But hey, it's those choices and developments that drew me deeper into the story and ramped up the tension. Bram? Well, I didn't even have a smidgen of sympathy for him at all - until the last quarter of the book. I had pretty much decided how things were going to end - and then Candlish threw in a last twist and turn in the final pages. A really good one that there was no way of predicting. Our House was a great read for me and I look forward to Candlish's next book.
So this story I found boring and I could not relate to the characters or even like them. You go back and forth between the husband and wife and get both sides of the story of what happened leading up to January 13. The most interesting part of the story is what happens after January 13 but it takes you most of the book to get to that part. It is hard to describe this book without giving away anything so I won't. I did finish this book but it was just okay to read nothing special. *I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.*
While I have seen mixed reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed Our House - the completely unique way the story is presented (through a podcast style narration, letter, and flashbacks to the events) was so, so, so refreshing to me! I thought it was the most clever way to reveal the story and twists, without being to complicated to follow. Synopsis: Fiona comes home to find strangers moving into her house and she’s sure there has been a mistake - except her estranged husband is missing, and now so are her kids. It doesn’t take long for Fiona to realize the extent of her husbands lies - maybe she never knew him at all. The story unwinds moving between the present day, when Fiona realizes there is a new family living in her house, to a podcast narration of her telling the story on a Victims Story station, and through a letter from Bram explaining his version of the events. I really felt that all the voices were different enough for the movement between them to be simple to follow - not to mention, incredibly interesting when it came to seeing multiple perspectives on the same event. I also loved the completely horrible characters in this story. I just wanted to smack Bram every time a new “mistake” of his came to light - it was like watching a crash unfold before your eyes - things are going downhill fast but you can’t stop it, right to the very last twist. I personally think this is a perfect summer read, especially if you are like me, and enjoy something unique to refresh your reading palate. While I have seen mixed reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed Our House - the completely unique way the story is presented (through a podcast style narration, letter, and flashbacks to the events) was so, so, so refreshing to me! I thought it was the most clever way to reveal the story and twists, without being to complicated to follow. Synopsis: Fiona comes home to find strangers moving into her house and she’s sure there has been a mistake - except her estranged husband is missing, and now so are her kids. It doesn’t take long for Fiona to realize the extent of her husbands lies - maybe she never knew him at all. The story unwinds moving between the present day, when Fiona realizes there is a new family living in her house, to a podcast narration of her telling the story on a Victims Story station, and through a letter from Bram explaining his version of the events. I really felt that all the voices were different enough for the movement between them to be simple to follow - not to mention, incredibly interesting when it came to seeing multiple perspectives on the same event. I also loved the completely horrible characters in this story. I just wanted to smack Bram every time a new “mistake” of his came to light - it was like watching a crash unfold before your eyes - things are going downhill fast but you can’t stop it, right to the very last twist. I personally think this is a perfect summer read, especially if you are like me, and enjoy something unique to refresh your reading palate.
Great character development, this suspenseful domestic drama thriller keeps you guessing right up to the surprise twist at the end. Highly recommended.
Man, I wanted to love this book more. I was hooked after the first chapter, and I could feel the tension jumping off the page. I thought it was a brilliant premise. Fiona pulls up to her house to find a moving van parked out front and strangers moving in! Just the thought of that is enough to make my heart race. Fiona will tell her story through a crime podcast and her husband, Bram tells his side through a typed word document. I really did enjoy both characters. A wonderful, detailed plot and a good twist was not enough to keep the story from drowning in a repetitive narrative and somewhat tedious pace. I did figure out the twist, but I enjoyed being shocked as soon as I figured it out (if that makes any sense)! Fell a bit flat for me in the end, but still a good twisty read. Thanks to Berkley/Ng for my ARC.
This book grabs you in the beginning and pulls you in. It is told in a different format than most, and includes podcast transcripts with comments. To me that was great. What an inventive way to tell parts of this story. The story itself is enough to keep you there, but the manner of telling enhances the effect for sure. I was so intrigued by some of the methods used by this couple to keep their relationship together for their children. What a concept. I was surprised by some of the things that happened, and the author did a brilliant job of misdirection to keep some little secrets that turn up out of nowhere and grab you. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover. I liked the story, I loved or hated the characters, all of the emotions were triggered, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Oh wow! Brilliant! (And I say that in the most British of ways about this very British book.) I was intrigued by the premise of this one after reading the synopsis, but it delivered so much more than I expected. I love the way Louise Candlish chose to structure the story with three different viewpoints, leaving us wondering which viewpoint was ultimately the correct one - not that anyone here is really “correct”, despite their efforts. There are surprises, including at least one jaw-dropping one for me. It kept me up way past my bedtime reading the last few chapters because I couldn’t sleep until I knew how it ended. And then that ending! I’m pretty stingy with 5-star reviews, but this gets 5 stars from me. I’ll definitely be looking for more from Louise Candlish. Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing a copy for an unbiased review.
Our House by Louise Candlish is a highly recommended novel of domestic suspense. When Fiona Lawson returns to her home after being away for a few days, she is shocked to see a moving van and strangers moving into her house. As she confronts the new homeowner, it becomes increasingly clear that Bram, her estranged husband, has sold the house, pocketed the money, and is now missing. After ascertaining that her two sons are safe and staying with a grandparent, she tries to unravel what happened. The couple were separated and had a custody arrangement in place known as a "bird's nest." This arrangement is where the children always stay in the family home while the parents alternate between living there and in a shared flat. The narrative switches between Fiona telling her story to the reader and on a podcast called "The Victim," and Bram telling his side of the story via a long word document that he prefaces as a suicide letter. It is clear that Fiona has been clueless and gullible while Bram has been lying for a long time - and it is his lies that eventually result in the current situation. Both characters are pretty self-involved. Neither character is completely sympathetic, which makes them difficult to feel connected to, but they are both interesting. Our House is basically well-written, despite long, drawn-out explanations from Fiona and Bram. Their stories could have been explained and summarized on both sides much quicker. This does result in the novel being a bit longer than is completely necessary to tell the story. What transpired is not complicated enough to require quite so detailed an explanation. The novel is intriguing, however, and you will want to know what happened and why, although you may have an inkling about the reasons behind Bram's disappearance, especially as new details are eventually revealed (in his long-winded explanation). Candlish supplies some surprises and a satisfying conclusion to the drama. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Publishing Group.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s quite different from anything I’ve read before. The main character, Fi seems to be a bit naïve, but with the shock of returning home only to find a new family moving into her house I can understand it. This book touches on many different subjects, scams, infidelity, neighbors and many others. There are many twists and turns. You think you might have something figured out, but as the story goes on, you are probably wrong. Lots of twists and turns with a really surprising ending!
Fiona and Bram have been living a “charmed life” up to now in contemporary England. They own a gorgeous home in the “posh” section of London, slightly above their means but nothing to worry about. Now, Fiona and Bram decide to separate; they will each live in their home during the week and the other one will stay in a rented apartment. It takes some adjustment but they handle it with the best possible equanimity, mainly by just forging ahead and never getting around to talking about it all. Then one day Fiona arrives home to discover it’s not her home anymore. First, she thinks it’s a terrible joke but then there is intense shock, made much worse that Bram cannot be reached by phone or by any of his peers/friends. The premise behind this mysterious mystery is not one most readers will easily relate to but suffice to say that Bram’s very poor in choosing options. What also might be amusing to some but comes across as somewhat incredible is that both start seeing other men and women but these experiences are low-key and hardly satisfying beyond the first infatuation flush. The story is told from two narrative viewpoints. The story behind their forced separation is tragic, to say the least. One wonders how one would have handled a similar situation. Of course, there are always evil characters quick to appear and make the most out of the incredible opportunity. Our House is listed as a thriller per the unending tension behind Bram who is constantly being afraid he will be arrested and therefore contemplating suicide and being threatened by the many involved in the plot against him. That gets old because it is repeated so often and starts to seem like “Cry, Wolf.” The other problem with this storyline is that the characters are somewhat stereotypical, remaining undeveloped and truly unchanging in spite of the disasters happening around and to them. This is a nice summer read that some will enjoy as a unique mystery with a little bit of suspect romance in between the conflict.
3.5 stars Absolutely loved the concept for this one, a woman arrives at her house to find all of her stuff gone and a couple has moved in. The story goes back and forth between the wife who has no idea what is going on and her estranged husband who might be keeping a secret or two. While I liked the idea of the book it was not an "edge of my seat, stay up until 2 am to finish" type of read. It was definitely a solid read but I wish it could have been something more. After finishing the book it still feels like the character of Bram, the husband, was not fully developed. The ending was the best part of the book although I might be in the minority with that opinion. Overall, it was an enjoyable read despite a few flaws. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.