Trapped in an abusive marriage to her husband Dan, Harriet longs for the day when she has enough money to be able to escape her living nightmare. After a particularly vicious attack, she finally summons up the courage to leave her old life for good, laden with just a suitcase and a box containing her secrets. Eighteen months later, and running her own art gallery in Coventry, to the outside world, life is good. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and plagued by anxiety and nightmares, even the prospect of a new relationship does not stop her from hiding in the shadows. Can she ever truly escape her past?
From the very start of the book, we are shown how we should not believe everything we see. To the outside world, Dan is a perfect husband but behind closed doors, he is abusive and controlling, his wife having to live her life exactly as he wants her to. Despite her being completely under his control and taking his beatings on a regular basis, Harriet is a strong woman and I admired her tenacity and forethought that would enable her to finally make a clean break from her life. The attack that finally pushes her to leave is a particularly brutal one and it was heartbreaking to think that, in real life, there are women who have to endure this.
Her life in Coventry seems perfect as she finally gets to put her art degree to good use. She even embarks on a relationship with a good-looking divorced man but this sets in motion a chain of events that seriously begin to threaten her sanity. Her new boyfriend seemed perfect, but at the same time, too perfect. I could not decide whether he was genuinely a nice guy or whether he was up to something. His ex-wife was not a particularly nice character and also helped to muddy the waters.
It soon becomes apparent that Harriet is hiding something from the past, something linked to her family. I really felt for her when she went to visit a therapist, desperate for help to stop the increasing amount of panic attacks she was experiencing but determined not to spill her secrets at the same time. When we do finally find out what her secret is, it was a genuine shocker and something I did not see coming. This completely changed the direction of the book and left me questioning everything I had already read.
This is a very clever book with a fascinating plot that became completely ‘unputdownable’ as it progressed. I was also very happy with the ending and felt that all questions had been answered. This is a great debut and I look forward to reading more of Ruth Harrow’s work.
With thanks to Ruth Harrow for the ARC.
About the Author
Ruth Harrow was born and raised in London and graduated from the University of Kent before embarking on an unfulfilling career as an accountant.
In 2016, she put pen to paper and drafted the first version of her debut psychological thriller, In Her Footsteps.
She lives in Colchester with her husband, two children and chocolate Labrador, Rolo.