I didn’t read Lucy Lawrie’s debut but I did organise a blog tour with Black & White Publishing (back in those hazy days of Fiction Addiction Book Tours!) and read the reviews with interest. When I received The Last Day I Saw Her I was looking forward to finding out for myself what it was about Lucy’s writing that pulled her readers in.
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Black and White Publishing (11 Aug. 2016)
When lonely single mum Janey stumbles into an art workshop, she can’t believe her eyes when her left hand mysteriously scribbles a picture of two little girls and a strange message from someone called ‘Hattie’: Janey’s childhood best friend. But they lost touch after Hattie’s family suddenly moved away in mysterious circumstances. Janey’s instincts tell her that she must finally find out what happened to Hattie, but life is already complicated enough: she’s struggling with motherhood, a custody battle over her toddler son Pip is looming, and she finds herself falling for intense art tutor Steve. And when writing appears on the walls of her flat and Pip starts playing with an invisible friend, Janey fears she’s losing her mind. Is it really a good idea to go digging up the past?
As dark secrets come to light, she can’t be sure what’s real any more – or who to trust…
Moving and suspenseful, The Last Day I Saw Her is a richly emotive story of friendship lost and found, and how facing up to the past can help you find a better future.
I loved the format of the storytelling. Present time is interspersed with information from the past in the form of Hattie’s diary from 1989. As well as the emotions of Janey being sidelined by Murray and Gretel over son Pip, she’s also questioning her sanity from the unexplained things that keep happening in her flat. Is she the right person to be keeping her son safe? The paranormal element of Hattie’s diary combined with present day is so compelling. I just had to keep turning those pages!
The attraction between Janey and Steve is raw and primal. I was never quite sure whether she should be trusting him or not! At the art class, the picture she draws and the automatic writing is spine tingling and opens up so many questions. As the story progresses, the clues are ambiguous (rather like the title) and led my mind down different pathways. I had my own thoughts about Janey’s past but I was totally wrong (don’t you just love that). Characters’ behaviours are always motivated by something aren’t they and yet I took something at face value, thinking this particular character was vile and yet … I also didn’t see the importance of another connection – until it was there in front of me.
I thought the pace was fast and lends itself to the suspense. The settings feel as if they are living and breathing – characters in their own right. Conflict comes from many angles and not always where you would expect! The story gripped me from the beginning and left me with hope and faith.
If I had to describe The Last Time I Saw Her in one word it would be intense.
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