Monday 16 May 2022

Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald BLOG TOUR #KeepHerSweet @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks #BookReview #SiblingRivalry


Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move. 

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and they bonds they share … or shatter.

Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald is published in paperback and digitally on 26 May 2022 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour.

Helen Fitzgerald is one of my go-to authors. Her writing is sharp, shocking, dark and always laugh out loud funny. You do need a dark, almost macabre sense of humour to appreciate her scathing wit. There were passages in this book that I read out to my husband, they are funny, but shocking funny. Be warned!

Fitzgerald takes a family unit and breaks them down into four individual characters who have very few redeeming features between them. Penny and Andeep Malony-Singh are the parents. They thought that relocating to the countryside, to a smaller house where they could upcycle pieces of homeware (basically junk ...) would be their own  happily ever after. The problem here is that no matter where you may roam, your assorted baggage usually arrives too. It may be a little later, but it will arrive.

Penny and Andeep's baggage are their two adult daughters; Asha and Camille. You've heard of sibling rivalry? Well, take that and multiply by thousands and you get some sort of idea of this relationship. The new house is certainly not big enough for the four of them, and the chances of them living in harmony is almost nil. 

When things become violent, Joy is called in to help. A family therapist, in her seventies, widowed and with a grown up daughter of her own, Joy appears to be the salve that could help to heal these family wounds.  However, Joy herself says, in the very first line of the book; 'Unhappy families always cheer her up.'   A strange thing to think to oneself, and an indicator that all is not glorious in Joy's life either. 

The story gets darker and darker as the author cleverly untangles and lies bare the family dynamics in the Malony- Singh household. We come to learn that Andeep is a washed-up, unfunny comedian who really has no interest in his family. He just wants fame and glory. Penny is familiar with the bottom of a drinks glass and Asha and Camilla are totally f***** up beyond help. It's a car crash waiting to happen, and it's played out in glorious technicolour, every single step downwards into an actual pit of hell. 

I loved it. Its cruel and funny and true and violent. Helen Fitzgerald always challenges her reader, there's no hiding here, you will read things that leave a mark on your brain, something like staring at a bright light and then still seeing it when you close your eyes. 

All honour to Joy, who tries her best but is gradually worn down by her own family issues, culminating in a finale that I certainly didn't expect, but welcomed with open arms and a little bit of glee too. 

Read it, if you dare! 

Helen Fitzgerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. 

Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. 

Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. 

She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. 

Follow Helen on Twitter @FitzHelen.

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