No matter how hard you try ...
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn't ready to let her forget so easily. It's no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?
Someone has to pay for what happened. But who will it be?
Watching Edie by Camilla Way was published by Harper Collins on 28 July 2016, and is the author's third novel. Way back in 2007, long before I started to review at Random Things, I read Camilla Way's first novel, The Dead of Summer and enjoyed it very much, it's a very clever book and I've just discovered a copy of her second book, Little Bird on my bookshelf - a purchase from long ago, that has been sadly neglected but is now sitting firmly at the top of my 'books to read on holiday' pile.
Heather and Edie; two girls from a small town that become friends. Although at first glance they appear to be so very different; Edie is attractive and popular whilst Heather is dumpy and the target of bullies, they do have some things in common. Both of them come from families that have fallen apart, dysfunctional parents that are caught up in their own problems, and are either overbearing or uncaring. It is their shared feelings of neglect that bring them together.
This cleverly structured story is told in the 'Before' and the 'After', and narrated separately by both girls, they tell the same story, but from their own viewpoint.
In the 'After', Edie is living alone in a small flat, firmly estranged from her mother, and her only contact with her family is via her Uncle Geoff. She hasn't seen or heard from Heather for seventeen years. Until the day she answers the door to find Heather standing there. Although horrified, Edie is feeling vulnerable and weak and it isn't long before Heather becomes a permanent fixture in the flat.
Back in the 'Before', the reader learns more about both girls and their circumstances. We meet Connor, the boy who ultimately becomes the focus of both of their lives. We suffer the pain that they both feel at the hands of their parents .... yet, it's difficult to sympathise with either of them. Neither Heather nor Edie are likeable characters on the whole, but each of them have their positive qualities. There is no doubt that they are incredibly well drawn, and I found myself switching from one to other .. who to believe ... who to side with ....
There's a dark, intense tension to this story. The reader is aware from the beginning that something dreadful happened in the 'Before', but it's not until the end that we are allowed to know exactly what it was. And, oh, that end! My heart was racing so much that I actually felt physically sick as I was reading, and discovering, and finding out just what these characters were capable.
Stereotypically, people expect female friendships to be close and loving and caring, yet I expect most of us will have, at one time in our lives, experienced the force of a toxic friendship. Camilla Way describes the manipulation and the pure toxicity of this relationship so well. The betrayal of trust, the humiliation and despair and the powerful, far-reaching after effects that it can have.
With themes of violence, depression, drug abuse and obsession, Watching Edie is sometimes an unsettling read, but it is extremely powerful and incredibly compelling. The intricacies of the human mind and the psychology behind actions that lead to terrible events are examined in detail.
Utterly convincing and brilliantly executed, Watching Edie is a story that will linger in your mind for days and days to come.
Camilla Way was born in Greenwich and studied Modern English and French Literature at the University of Glamorgan.
Formerly an editor on the men's style magazine Arena, Camilla now writes full time and lives in south-east Lond with her partner and twin boys.
Follow her on Twitter @CamillaLWay