Sunday, 13 March 2016

Book Review: Look At Me

Look At Me
By Sarah Duguid
Published by Tinder Press
Available in hardback and ebook
Paperback forthcoming

Sarah Duguid's debut novel, Look At Me, is an ideal book for a rainy afternoon as you can finish this tightly packed domestic thriller in one single read session or even two if you want the story to stretch a little further.

Lizzie, an unemployed actress, lives with her father and brother in North London. Their lives are comfortable, with Lizzie and her brother living in studio apartments at the end of the garden, and their father supplementing their small incomes. On the surface they look like a family holding it together but all of them are grieving the death of her mother who died suddenly a year or two before the story starts. The decor is still the same, and her mother's clothes still hang in the wardrobes and their lives are exactly like they were before Lizzie's mother passed away.

Duguid explores the complexities of families and the fragile realities people build to hide the truth. One day Lizzie comes across a letter - her father has another, younger daughter. Going against her father's wishes, Lizzie invites Eunice, her long lost sister into their world.  This act of defiance creates a chain reaction as Lizzie and her family's lives start to unravel with the new arrival. This new presence in their home starts to fracture the delicate balance Lizzie has created in her life to survive the world after her mother's death. The veil of happiness to cover up the grief slowly starts to fall away pushing all of the characters to their limits.

Every character is flawed, and at times not always likeable but I liked this because it reflects real life, and at times this book reminded me of Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies with the way lies can rip apart and divide once close-knit families. Loneliness and jealousy consume Lizzie's life as she soon realises that Eunice will not be the cure her family's grief.

Look at Me is short and precise, and will grip you from start to finish. You can buy Look At Me from your favourite bookshop.

I was kindly sent a copy from the publisher.

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