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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Cuckoo' by Julia CROUCH

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

Polly is Rose's oldest friend. So when she calls with the news that her husband has died, Rose doesn't think twice about inviting her to stay. She'd do anything for Polly; it's always been that way.

Polly has never been one to conform - it's one of the qualities Rose most admires in her - and from the moment she and her two small boys arrive on Rose's doorstep, it's obvious she is not the typical grieving widow. But the longer Polly stays, the more Rose wonders how well she really knows her. She can't help wondering, too, whether her presence has anything to do with Rose's growing sense that she's losing her hold on her own family and home.

As Rose's meticulously constructed world is picked apart at the seams, one thing becomes clear; once Polly's in, it's very hard to get her out again.

A friend in need is a friend indeed . . . when Rose’s oldest and dearest friend becomes a widow, Rose is there with open arms and a shoulder to cry one. Rose thinks nothing of opening her home up to Polly and her two small boys who have just lost a father.

Rose has always loved Polly’s unique, non-conformist personality. But the longer she stays in Rose’s house, the more it seems she doesn’t quite fit the role of ‘grieving widow’. Polly isn’t acting the way a bereaved wife is supposed to. And when Rose starts to feel redundant in her own home, even neglected as a wife and mother, she can’t help but wonder if Polly is the cause...

Only one thing is certain; ‘their first mistake was inviting her in’.

‘Cuckoo’ is the debut novel from Julia Crouch.

This is one smart and sharp psychological thriller. What makes Crouch’s book such a shiveringly good read is that it’s mired in possibility. The ‘threat’ to our protagonist is a beloved best friend – a friend who has just suffered a crippling loss. Who amongst us wouldn’t lend a hand or open our doors to a friend who is suffering? Therein lays the scare at the heart of ‘Cuckoo’, as Crouch asks the question ‘how well do we know our friends’?

Polly’s disruption to Rose’s home-life is a slow-burning madness. Rose starts to feel insignificant as both a wife and mother when Polly insists on lending a helping hand around the house. Polly helps in looking after Rose’s children; she assists her husband with his work. She cleans the house and prepares dinner . . . and slowly, but surely, Rose starts to feel irrelevant. But how much of it can be attributed to Polly’s grief? Or is it all in Rose’s head?
Things had fallen apart. It was as if she had been brought in because of the absence of a mother. She had the feeling that there was a vacuum where the woman she had thought she was once stood, and that she was now beside it, looking on.
In that case, she thought, who fills the space I occupy now? And this was a question she really couldn’t bring herself to answer.
The blurb (reminiscent of ‘Single White Female’) and cover (complete with garish pink suitcase) and may scream ‘female readership’, but I disagree. Crouch’s debut is chilling and twisted enough to reach across genders and appeal to both men and women. No doubt women will connect more with Rose’s feelings of threatened wife and mother, but men will find a delicious whodunit in Rose’s spiraling paranoia and Polly’s corruption.

Crouch has tapped into a new thriller setting that has already enjoyed prime-time at the box office. ‘The Roommate’ came out recently, and focuses on similar frighteners as ‘Cuckoo’. The horror lies in the familiar – when we feel threatened in our own home, by the very people we call friend.

5/5

2 comments:

  1. argh! this sounds fabulous. I love a good psychological thriller ~ I am going to track this one down, hey. Loved your review.

    It had me thinking a little of Beautiful malice ~ although I'm sure they are nothing alike :)

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