Alcohol is clearly not Astrid’s friend, in fact, it sounds like that it is the cause for her lack of friends.
“Drink isn’t your friend. It’s your enemy. Your poison. Can’t you see what it is doing to you?” (page 5).
The only problem is that, due to her lack of friends, Astrid finds herself drawn to the pub. Somewhere she can mix, be social, and not be judged.
Simon is Astrid’s kindred spirit. Meeting in a dank bar during a depressingly quiet afternoon, it is not long before they sack the cider and head back to his bedsit to get to know each other better.
Who is Astrid though? Something happened to turn Astrid into the person she has now become not only in personality but also name. Has she created a whole new persona to block something out; to be able to survive her past?
While the story with Astrid is unfolding a second narrative also springs up from time to time – but who is this narrator? Who is the girl mentioned with the braids? Is this person connected strongly to Astrid or is this a completely independent story-line?
It quickly becomes evident that Astrid not only has a drinking problem but appears to be suffering from paranoia as well. In everything she does, she either sees, smells or believes her ex Simon is nearby.
“Could I have imagined it? I haven’t had a drink in months. I’m stone-cold sober, but my mind’s still playing tricks on me. What with thinking I saw him down by the beach huts last night and now this…” (page 52).
The more you read, the smaller details begin to emerge. They stick in my mind and I know I need to store them for late. Just little things that perhaps give a hint of what is going to unfold. Hints of how these characters are intertwined. I don’t want to give anything away, but the subtlety of the clues means they could be easily overlooked.
Lesley has this amazing ability to add a twist to the narrative that you never see coming. There are little clues throughout, but it’s the sudden giving of information that shocks you into yet again reflecting on the story so far. Did I miss a vital clue? Should I have seen this coming sooner? Just when you think you have grasped what is going on, bam! something else happens and you realise that what you predicted may unfold actually isn’t going to at all.
Reading about the turbulent relationships Astrid has had not only with people but also alcohol and her dependence on drink to get her through the day, you start to think about those truly afflicted by the disease and how utterly devastating it must be. The terrifying nature of being so reliant not on another being but on a substance and the torment it creates is incomprehensible. Lesley however, has done an amazing job to recreate the anguish that must be felt by those individuals.
“The truth is, I don’t remember how it happened. But it was my fault. All of it. All I can remember is waking up, sick and jittery, God knows how many hours later…” (page 101).
The further into the book you read the more you realise that there are many things troubling Astrid – a relationship turns bad with horrendous consequences and something else. Something that causes Astrid to panic where she has to claw at her subconscious to pull the memories back from the murky depths of her spotted memory.
Will she succeed? Will she be able to fight the demons and come out the other side stronger? Or will someone try to destroy her forever?
Final Thoughts on Who did you tell?
If you enjoyed Lesley Kara’s first novel, The Rumour, you need to pick up a copy of Who did you tell? Personally, this second installment from Flinstead completely gripped me, and I have to confess that this was a book read in one sitting, I simply couldn’t put it down. For those that have read The Rumour, if you pay close attention, there is also a mention of that story-line is this novel, tying the two together, albeit in a small way. Don’t panic however, if you have not read Lesley’s first book, this is completely stand-alone and does not rely on The Rumour to set the scene.
I recently got to spend the evening chatting to Lesley Kara over dinner, along with several other bloggers and booksellers. If you fancy reading more about the kind of events a book blogger can attend, I suggest reading Gaby’s article about the pre-launch event.
Have you read either of Lesley’s books? I would love to hear your thoughts on either Who did you tell? or The Rumour?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lesley Kara, Alison Barrow and everyone at Transworld Books (including Penguin Random House UK) for inviting me to the pre-launch event for Who did you tell?