I might be late to this party but I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on What She Saw from Wendy Clarke.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
How far would you go to keep your daughter safe?
Everyone knows Leona would do anything for her daughter, Beth: she moved to Church Langdon to send Beth to the best school, built a business to support them and found the perfect little cottage to call home. They hike together, shop together, share their hopes and fears. It’s the relationship every mother dreams of.
But Leona never talks about why they moved to the Lake District.
She’s never told Beth anything about her father.
She says Beth should never speak to strangers. She says Beth doesn’t need friends.
She’s only trying to protect her daughter.
When Leona answers the phone one morning, her heart stops as she hears a voice from her past.
She’s given her daughter everything, but now she must tell her the truth. And once it’s out, can she keep her little girl safe?
Set in the Lake District the sense of place in this book was outstanding, I don’t know the area that well, only having visited a few times, however, Wendy Clarke picked me up and transported me right into the heart of this story and the wild and rugged landscape.
Initially it is easy to think that Leona is an overprotective and neurotic mother when it comes to her daughter Beth. It is easy to side with the young girl who is struggling with her own identity and feeling out of place in a school where she just doesn’t fit in. My heart ached for Beth during some of the scenes as I remember all too well not fitting in with the “cool kids” at that age.
As Leona slowly uncovers the story of her past and the woman named Ria, whose life is intrinsically linked to hers, we start to understand, the reasoning behind her paranoid behaviour. It is one of those reads that ends each chapter on a cliff-hanger meaning you are compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.
The plot is a bit like a puzzle and I was completely invested in solving it, I loved how the author used Leona’s sessions with a counsellor to unravel the puzzle. Even as the penny drops and you have that eureka moment, it is not quite as simple as that, it keeps on delivering the twists and turns right up to the very end, leaving you not knowing quite who to trust.
It was hard hitting, heart breaking and totally addictive, filled to the brim with tension and suspense set in a stunning landscape.
You can buy the book here