I first read Helen Callaghan’s debut novel, Dear Amy, a couple of years ago, a few weeks after it came out and I really liked it. I found some of the content a bit disturbing, but her writing was captivating and the suspense was high from the first page, so when I heard she had a new book coming out I was really excited and I couldn’t wait to put my hands on a copy.
The protagonist of her new novel is Sophia, a twenty-six year old architect, living in London and having fun. During a night out with her colleagues, Sophia receives a call from her mother asking her to come home. Sophia is used to her mother’s needy calls so she puts her off and keeps enjoying her night. But when the next morning she turns up at her parents’ house in Suffolk, she finds her mother dead hanging from a tree and her father stabbed and barely alive. The police rules it as a suicide-homicide suspecting that her mother wanted to kill herself and when her father tried to stop her, she stabbed him. Besides the grief over her mother’s death, Sophia feels angry and confused. Her mother wasn’t suicidal so why would she do something like that?
Let me start by saying that I really liked the character of Sophia. She is strong and determined and even when she finds herself in dangerous situations, she manages to come out of them almost unscathed. I liked how the author explored the relationship between her and her mother. Sophia thinks there is something more to her mother’s death so she starts to dig in her past. She finds out her mother has started writing a book in which she recounted her life inside a cult. Even though the revelations about her mother’s past shook her and made her question everything she knew, Sophia’s feelings toward her mother don’t change.
The plot is very twisty and suspenseful. I feel cheated when a story becomes predictable, and halfway through the novel I thought I knew where this was going, who was guilty, and the reasons behind the death of Sophia’s mother. But I was happy to discover that I was completely wrong on my prediction. The ending was unexpected and it took me completely by surprise and it made me love the book even more.
Helen Callaghan created a gripping and compulsive novel in which she examines the relationship, often complicated, between a mother and a daughter. She also explores obsession, family ties, and the lengths a person would go to protect the people they love and I was completely engrossed from the first to the last page.
Thank you Sarah Harwood and Michael Joseph for providing me with a copy of the book.
EVERYTHING IS LIES is out in the UK on February 22nd.