What’s it about?
Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.
Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?
Sometimes it’s better not to know.
When I saw the cover and read the blurb, I was immediately intrigued and I was very thrilled to receive an early proof copy for review from the publisher. I didn’t know what to expect though because the blurb is not really giving away much is it… is it a mystery, a thriller, or what? I was expecting something along those lines but I was not really prepared for the read it turned out to be. It’s just a bit different than what I’m used to because the stories I read are not all that contemplative. This novel is not fast-paced or full of tension like other crime novels, there’s no real whodunit theme, rather one I would describe as: “If you knew who did it, what would you do with it?”.
Now that’s an interesting premise and one that is explored extensively throughout this novel. Alice is struggling with what her head is saying and what her heart is telling her. Can she really live with the knowing? Maybe some would say they would keep the secret to themselves because nothing good would come out of telling on someone you love, but Alice is a portraitist and a good portraitist knows how to capture the real person they are painting, they have a quest for revealing the truth. How can she pretend to be someone different in her private life, and even if she tries to live with the lie, will others not see right through her and see what the real Alice stands for? She is convinced that some people suspect or might even know that she is involved.
How far would you go to cover up a crime? As thought-provoking as it is, I still haven’t figured it out yet but Alice’s choice seemed to come to me naturally in the beginning. I followed her thoughts until the moment she signs up for another painting session and the story spitballs towards the inevitable truth coming out, either coming from her or from someone else. From thereon she loses my sympathy and understanding a little bit. Her thoughts go all over the place, I grew a little irritated and I almost (almost!) started to feel more sympathy for the subject of the whole matter. It is thrown up that she’s only thinking about herself and less about those involved and I was starting to agree. The whole dilemma ‘will she or won’t she spill the beans’ is what really keeps you reading and turning the pages.
This story deals a lot about art, which is worth mentioning. It’s very clear that the author is an art connoisseur and has a deep fondness for art. This book breathes a love for painting, but he assumes the reader also knows his Yves Klein to his Richard Diebenkorn. Unfortunately I do not and I would have liked it better if a painting was explained to me more then throwing around artist’s names. I give praise though how lyrical he can write about his passion. In general, the prose in this novel was even more eloquent than what I’m used to.
So how does it end? Well I can only tell that I’m actually weirdly satisfied how it ended. I hadn’t quite anticipated this ending but then again it didn’t really surprise me either and I found it more than fitting.
You want to know the truth? You can’t handle the truth! Yep all the way through I had to think of that line in the movie of A Few Good Men.
Many thanks to the author and the publisher for a review copy of this novel.