This is only Rosie Walsh’s second novel, but she’s established herself as one of those authors. Authors who draw you in, leave you wondering what the hell is going on, then pull the rug from under you by turning everything on it’s head. She’s also brilliant at building complex characters, the sort that stay with you. I know that Emma will stay with me for a long time. Emma is an academic, married to Leo and mum to three year old Ruby. Her field of study is the creatures that are brought in by the tide and then swept out again, her claim to fame was finding a new mutation of a Japanese crab. This took her through her masters and eventually resulted in a TV series. Leo adores Emma and the feeling is mutual, but things have been tough lately as Emma has had cancer. Leo is an obituary writer at a newspaper and because Emma was a TV personality the department was writing a ‘stock’ – an obituary they keep on file just in case. Leo asks if he can add some notes that he’d been writing and it’s here that Leo notices something wrong. Emma didn’t graduate from the university she said she did. It’s a minor thing, but along with a lot of messages from very odd male fans and her ‘disappearing times’ when she takes herself away to get her head straight, Leo’s mind is running through hundreds of scenarios. He can’t believe Emma would have an affair, but it’s the simplest explanation. He keeps digging and will have to confront her with what he’s found. Emma is becoming anxious, especially when he starts asking questions. How can she convince him that the life they’ve had together and the love she has for him is true? When everything else has been a lie.
I don’t know any other author who so beautifully combines a tender love story with aspects of a domestic thriller. Usually doubt is cast on the central relationship to such a degree that the reader stops rooting for them. Here I was really confused, because I believed in Leo and Emma. Each character felt so real and they were easy and comfortable together. When we flashed back to their marriage proposal it was probably the wrong moment, rushed and definitely not Insta-ready, but it was touching and honest. I really felt Emma’s eagerness to be with Leo. I couldn’t believe she would then have an affair, but the evidence did point that way. As the truth started to come out I felt so emotional for this young woman, who really had no one left to help her make good choices once she’d lost both parents. No one is harder on Emma than she is on herself and it was sometimes sad and painful to be in her head. I thought the author used the landscape beautifully and knowing Alnmouth well, I could see how it’s cottages and incredible view of the sea would soothe the mind. Although I’ve also been therein the midst of a storm and as the waves lashed against the rocks and driving rain set in, it was very inhospitable. I think this shows the extremes of Emma’s mood as she’s gone through her life, dealing with very deep lows and then sunny, enthusiastic highs.
Her house in Hampstead Heath, which was her grandmother’s, gives us some indication of how her mind feels. She’s never sorted through her grandmother’s things, so is living a new life cluttered with reminders of the past. She feels safe there, it’s possibly the only place she ever has. Leo is coming from a solid background. I loved his relationship with his brother and it’s likely he’s never felt truly lost and alone. Rosie Walsh has created a very rare novel and engrossing novel. So much so that every time I was away from Leo and Emma’s story I longed to back home with my book. She’s packed her book full of twists and turns, but with so much tenderness and love it never fully veered into domestic noir. Despite her secrets and lies, I never stopped wanting Emma to be with Leo and her little girl. I came away feeling that we never truly know another person’s journey, but we can empathise and try to understand. Emma’s mistake was thinking Leo wouldn’t love her if he knew the truth, but maybe she has underestimated the depth of that love.
Published on 23rd June 2022 by Mantle
Meet The Author
Rosie Walsh is the internationally bestselling author of two novels, the global smash hit THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL, and – new for 2022 – THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, a heart-wrenching, keep-you-up-all-night emotional thriller, which was an instant New York Times bestseller and stayed in the German top ten for several weeks.
Rosie Walsh lives on a medieval farm in Devon, UK, with her partner and two young children, after years living and travelling all over the world as a documentary producer and writer.
The Man Who Didn’t Call (UK) / Ghosted (US) was her first book under her own name, and was published around the world in 2018, going on to be a multimillion bestseller.
Prior to writing under her own name she wrote four romantic comedies under the pseudonym Lucy Robinson. When she isn’t parenting or writing, Rosie can be found walking on Dartmoor, growing vegetables and throwing raves for adults and children in leaking barns.