Posted in Publisher Proof

The Lock-In by Phoebe Luckhurst.

Ellen and Alexa have survived hangovers, dodgy landlords and most of their twenties together.

But can they survive this?

After waking up with a terrible hangover, Ellen’s day is about to get much worse. It’s Saturday morning and a flooded kitchen leads best friends Ellen and Alexa into their attic looking for a stopcock. Their scream, after finding a mouse, leads their friend and housemate Jack up there too. But when Ben – Alexa’s date from the night before – walks in, the handle breaks, and all are trapped.

While Ellen nurses her hangover, she watches her best friend fall for this gorgeous stranger. Only to come to the horrifying realisation that she knows him from somewhere. Frantically searching her memories, Ellen wonders: is Ben really who she thinks he is?

And more importantly, what on earth is she going to do about it . . . ?

This is a fun rom-com and one of those deceptively light novels, that’s actually very difficult to write. It feels light-hearted and restricts the characters to one space – an attic within their shared home. I need a wee every five minutes, so I’d have ransacked every box in the attic for something to force the door open! I can’t possibly wee in a room with strangers! On a more serious note, the attic is a great dramatic device because it heightens tensions and seeing how that affects characters, is so interesting.

To create a good sense of the shifting perspectives in the room, the author gave each character their own narrative in the novel. It worked brilliantly because we could get a sense of how the existing relationships in the house worked, and how Ben’s presence changed that dynamic. It gave us different perspectives on what was happening too – who is panicking, who is a natural leader in a group, who comes up with creative solutions to the situation they’re in? It also showed how Alex’s presence with a man, a man she seems to be falling for, affects the others. When friends fall in love we’re happy for them, it’s a good thing, but will it change our relationship with them? Is the beginning of their relationship, necessarily the end of an era as single twenty-somethings sharing a home? I felt for Jack, who feels like an outsider in the house. Everything about him told me he was a warm-hearted and kind. Yet he seemed shy and a little bit awkward to. My heart went out to him.

There were some times I felt so old and I’m also completely out of touch with urban Iiving. I’m 47 years old and I’ve lived in a rural county my whole life. There were many references lost on me. Their teenage years may well have been spent on MSN messenger, mine was spent drinking on a riverbank and dancing in a psychedelic hoody to the Happy Mondays. My teenage years are pre-internet, which makes me feel prehistoric. I enjoyed the stories of internet dating, but my dates had to run the gauntlet of my Dad and suffer stifled, anxious, phone calls taking place in our living room with my whole family listening. I’ve heard stories of terrible landlords from friends who have lived in London, but here no one can afford to rent anything till they’re in their thirties. So I had to enjoy this as an amused older generation, learning about the world as it is now or might be for my stepdaughters (although that’s slightly worrying).

This is a great summer read, if you’re looking for something light-hearted with characters you’ll enjoy stuck in a very awkward situation. It’s a very modern room-com, bringing the genre bang up to date with some good laughs along the way.

Meet The Author


Phoebe Luckhurst is a journalist and author, who has written for publications including the Evening Standard, ES Magazine, ELLE, Grazia, Sunday Times Style, Guardian, Telegraph and Grazia. The Lock In is her first novel, and she is currently writing her second.