Today I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware, her latest psychological thriller. I’d seen this book being mentioned around cyberspace, seen it garner rave reviews and so when offered the chance to take part I jumped at it. My thanks to Bethan Jones at Vintage for the invite and to the publisher for providing the advance copy of the book for review. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about.
About the Book
The Death of Mrs Westaway is Ruth Ware’s best: a dark and dramatic thriller, part murder mystery, part family drama, altogether riveting’ AJ FINN, bestselling author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…
The brand new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10.
Every once in a while a book comes along which surprises you. One which you find that once you start reading, you don’t want to put it down. A book which casts a spell, pulling you under and making you throw all other concerns, plans and duties aside until you have finished it. For me The Death of Mrs Westaway was one such book and, if I am being completely honest, I can’t necessarily tell you exactly why.
It is not full of fast paced action. If anything, the start to the novel is somewhat slow as we are introduced to our protagonist Hal and the circumstances which see her make her journey from her home in Brighton to the far south west and a family she never knew in Cornwall. There are moments of menace, where you feel a strong underlying tension which is what ultimately leads Hal to make the decision she does, but other than this it is quite a quiet and maudlin existence she leads. And yet … well in spite of this I felt compelled to go on Hal’s journey with her, there was just something about the way her character was developing that made me want to read more.
Young, and with a considerable talent for reading other people there was a heady mixture of vulnerability and yet quiet determination about Hal. Although she never quite came across as the most gregarious character, there was a fire in her. All of the supporting characters, Hal’s family, the housekeeper Mrs Warren, are brilliantly drawn and the mistrust and uncertainty between them all clear to see. Even Hal proved time and again how adept she was at playing a role, one which fitted her circumstances well, and yet despite her deception, in spite of the yarn you know she is spinning, she is perhaps the only character you feel you can truly trust in the whole story.
And what a story. From the very beginning I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about the old house, the family and ultimately the woman who can to leave Hal an inheritance she didn’t feel she was entitled to. Ruth Ware has crafted such a finely woven tale that it is hard at first to see where the threads have been pulled together to make the whole. And yet pulled together they are as interspersed amongst Hal’s story in the present you have that of a young woman who once stayed in the house, one whose past if far more harrowing than that which Hal has experienced. And this element of the plot is as fascinating as the present day for although you know the story is set a mere twenty something years earlier, it may as well have been in Victorian England, such is the feel of the style and the horror of the story. It is quite remarkable how the author has captured this classical spirit in what is still quite a contemporary tale.
This story is full of mystery, full of half spoken truths, a myriad of lies and old resentments which are slowly and surely uncovered. And it is this, if I had to define just one thing, that really made the book live for me. As I read I could see pictures forming in my head about who was who, what was what and how past and present intertwined, and I had to know. I just really, really needed to know. For me, of late, this is a rather rare thing indeed. More often than not, especially with a tale of this nature, I am somewhat indifferent. I want to know but I don’t need it. With this book I needed to know. How it ended, who Hal really was to the late Mrs Westaway and just which one, if any, of her new found ‘Uncles’ was really telling the truth. I resented flying to Dublin (although I did get reading time on the plane), I resented stopping for dinner and I most certainly was not going to sleep until I had finished so a late night it was for me there then.
This book has that really classical literature vibe to it, even though you know it is set in modern times and the characters plagued by modern technology, Facebook and the like. Yet as you join Hal as she steps through the doors of Trepassen House you may well be setting foot back into the past, into a house, not a home, which has stood stock still in time, hiding secrets in a way that only a house of its age can. The imagery is perfect, the magpies and the superstitions attached to them, the tarot cards, the threat which is ever present and it makes for an oppressively atmospheric, chilling and ultimately intriguing and absorbing read that I absolutely loved.
If you would like to read the book for yourself, and I highly recommend that you do, then it is available from the following retailers:
About the Author
Ruth Ware’s first two thrillers, In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, were international smash-hits, and appeared on bestseller list around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. The film rights to her debut were snapped up by New Line Cinema, and her books are published in more than 40 languages.
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