I was drawn to Louise Candlish’s Our House because of its unique premise. There are tons of books about missing women and children, and although I’ve enjoyed many of them, I’ve been in the mood for something new for quite some time, and this story that opens with our heroine’s realization that strangers are moving into her house, seemed as though it was just what I was looking for.
Fiona Lawson returns home from a weekend getaway to find a moving van parked in front of her house. At first, she figures one of her neighbors must be moving, but when she sees movers carrying things into her family’s home, she completely loses her cool. She rushes up to the door, demanding to know what’s going on, and she’s told that her house was sold and today is the day the new owners are taking possession. None of this makes sense to Fiona, and she asks to come inside to sort out what has to be a misunderstanding of epic proportions.
Unfortunately however, things aren’t all that easy to sort out. It seems that her estranged husband Bram put the house on the market without consulting her first, and when she tries to reach him by phone, she finds his number is no longer in service. To make matters worse, their two young sons did not show up at school that day, and Fiona has no idea where they might be.
Fiona’s marriage to Bram used to be a happy one, but that changed on the night she caught him in bed with another woman. Now, the couple shares the family home as part of a new parenting style known as bird’s nest parenting. Each parent spends half the week in the house with the boys, thus minimizing the upheaval they would experience with a more typical custody arrangement. Bram had been staying with the boys for the past few days while Fiona was away.
As Fiona fights to uncover the secrets Bram has obviously been hiding, she’ll be forced to face some very unpleasant truths about her marriage and herself. It soon becomes clear that she never really knew Bram at all, and now, she hopes she can put things to rights before she loses everything and everyone she loves most.
The timeline of this novel might be confusing for some readers. The story opens with Fiona’s discovery that her house has been sold out from under her, and then goes back in time to the months leading up to that day. The narrative shifts between Fiona’s and Bram’s points of view, allowing readers to see things from both perspectives. Luckily, chapter headings are clearly labeled with dates and times, so I had no trouble keeping things straight in my head. Still, if you’re someone who prefers books with linear timelines, you might find Our House not to your liking.
The reader learns Bram’s secrets quite a while before Fiona does, and at first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wondered if the story would bore me since I already knew what was going on, but Ms. Candlish did a fantastic job of keeping me engaged, and I loved watching Fiona figure things out.
Fiona is sometimes a bit too idealistic for my liking. In the parts of the book set in the past, we watch time and time again as she wilfully ignores every single sign that Bram is up to no good and I wondered why she cut him so much slack, especially considering the fact that he’d been unfaithful to her. I wanted her to wake up and acknowledge the truth that was right in front of her, but it takes her quite a while to get around to it. She does get there in the end though, and that’s all that really matters.
I was really pleased with how Ms. Candlish chose to deal with Bram’s character. She could have made him a villain with no redeeming qualities, but instead, she gives him a very compelling backstory. It in no way excuses his horrible behavior, but it did give me some insight into why he does the things he does. He was never someone I liked, but I was able to appreciate his humanity, something I can’t always do with the villain of a book.
If you’re looking for a thriller with an original spin, hurry and grab a copy of Our House. It’s unlike anything I’ve read this year, and I can’t wait for others to read it and love it as much as I did.
Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Apple Books/Kobo
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