All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes
Annie is a quiet, self contained person with secrets that even she doesn’t understand. She lives alone in a little house, has a particular attachment to her boss, Paul, and has one friend, Lauren. She has an evening when she makes a few misjudgements and everything changes for the worse. It is the evening when Chloe Hills disappears, and the search for the girl intrigues and entices, leading Annie into an excited involvement. This is a book of missing elements, of an interwoven story, of a woman who struggles with people. Other novels recently have depicted those who have a strict routine, a lonely life, but this book adds the hint of an old secret. I found it an intense read, the character of Annie which shifts and moves, full of the details of her observations of other people which continually run through the narrative. This is an absorbing book which engages the reader into the point of view of Annie, as she is continually trying to second guess what other people are thinking of her, suspecting her of, and what will happen as a result. Her sense of what she may be guilty of during the evening that Chloe disappears fills the book, and her loneliness and desperation makes this a disturbing read. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read and review this memorable novel.
The novel begins with Annie using Paul’s keys to effect and entry to his flat. Not that she knows why she is doing it; she does not want to take anything, wreck his home or take revenge, despite his treatment of her earlier which emerges over the next few pages of the novel. She meets her friend Lauren who she is desperate to see, especially as she has few other friends . Typically Lauren can spare only a few minutes, and it is with a renewed sense of loneliness that Annie travels home. It is then that she sees a picture which immediately triggers a reaction. A twelve year old girl is missing, and Annie has the feeling that she is somehow involved. Almost inadvertently Annie turns up for a search party for the girl, meeting other people on a new basis. She struggles to say things which are appropriate, and fears she has upset a few people, those who she desperately wants to become friendly with as an antidote to her extreme loneliness.
This intense and significant book is a stunning read; full of the small details that build up to an in depth picture of a woman in a challenging situation. Annie is a memorable and somewhat disturbing character who has many layers to a character beyond shyness. This is a book which piles up the pressure and the tension as a thriller with real human insight. The understanding of the character is immense and powerful as it shapes the novel that we appreciate from her point of view. It is not written in her voice, but describes her so closely that it almost feels like it is telling the story. The slight distance allows another story to be inserted, completely different from what is going on in the main narrative. This is a powerful book which I recommend to anyone who is interested in how a personality can find deep trouble in a situation through many strands of confusion and more.