Friday 27 October 2023

The Whispers by Ashley Audrain #TheWhispers @audrain @MichaelJBooks #BookReview


The whispers started long before the accident on Harlow Street . . .

Was it at the party, when Whitney screamed blue murder at her son?

Or after neighbour Blair started prowling Whitney's house, uninvited?

Or once Rebecca and Ben's childlessness finally puts a crack in their marriage?

But on the terrible night of the accident, the whispers grow louder, more insistent.

Neighbours gather round. Questions are asked. Secrets are spilled. And the gloss on everything begins to rub off. Everyone is drawn into the darkness.

Because there's no smoke without fire.

No friendship without envy.

And no lie that does not conceal a devastating truth . . .

The Whispers by Ashley Audrain was published on 20 July 2023 by Michael Joseph. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

In November 2020 I read Ashley Audrain's debut novel, The Push. That book has stayed with me ever since. I found it emotionally challenging, yet incredibly compelling. It is a story that I have never forgotten. 

I began to read The Whispers with great anticipation, I was travelling around the eastern cities of Canada whilst reading, and had plenty of time to immerse myself fully in the story. And, what a story it is! Once again, this clever author has stunned me with her incredible insight into the complicated and sometimes unfathomable mind of the female. With the emphasis on motherhood and family, this is a novel that is utterly addictive. 

The novel features four main female characters; Whitney, Rebecca, Blair and Mara. They all live in the same neighbourhood, and it is that fact that connects them. They probably wouldn't be friends otherwise. Except, Mara is not their friend, she's just an old lady who has lived in the area for years, the other women don't take a great deal of notice of her, or her husband, but Mara spends a great deal of time noticing just what goes on in the street. 

The pivotal event for the plot is a small party in Whitney's back yard. The neighbours are all there, and they all hear how Whitney screams at her son Xavier. This episode puts a bit of a downer on things, and then, a few months later, when Xavier falls from his bedroom window and is left in a coma, memories are ignited and the whispers begin. Was he pushed? Remember that day when Whitney screamed at him?

Audrain pulls her readers into the heart of this neighbourhood, with each woman explicitly explored and dissected, chapter by chapter. We learn about Rebecca's desperate attempts to become a mother and how on-the-surface perfect Blair is crazed by paranoid thoughts about her husband. We also learn more about Mara, her history, her marriage and her grief.

At times it is so emotionally challenging, there is no let up from the darkness, and the suspicion and the tension. However, it is written with such flair and filled with such suspense that there's no choice, you have to read more. 

Another triumph from this exceedingly talented author.  Oh, and the final line of the book - be prepared! 

Highly recommended. 

ASHLEY AUDRAIN's debut novel THE PUSH is a New York Times, Sunday Times and #1 international bestseller, and a Good Morning America book club pick. 

It's been translated into 38 languages, and a limited television series is currently in development. 

Ashley previously worked as publicity director of Penguin Books Canada, and prior to that, worked in public relations. 

She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. 

THE WHISPERS is her second novel.

Twitter / X @audrain

Instagram @ashleyaudrain

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