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A family to die for…. novel set in the Home Counties

6th February 2018

The Stranger in my Home by Adele Parks, novel set in the Home Counties, Surrey.

A wholesome and wealthy family, settled in middle class Surrey, with all the trappings of a comfortable existence. Katherine is the 15 year old daughter who is the apple of her parents’ eye, who plays lacrosse and generally gets on well at school. She is doted on particularly by mum Alison, whose cloying helicopter parenting is explained by her own childhood, full of neglect and abandonment. Alison has gone from one extreme to the other.

novel set in the Home Counties

Into this homely haven crashes Tom Truby, who tentatively shares with them that Katherine, and his daughter Oliva were inadvertently swapped in the hospital shortly after birth. Furthermore his own wife Annabel has died recently through cancer and that the gene she was carrying may well have passed to her biological off spring, namely Katherine.

A shock for any family! There are no rules or guidance for such an event and the author captures so well the family – both as individual members and as a family – stumbling through this unknown and frightening territory. The rollercoaster emotions, the sheer terror of new relationship dynamics and the unknown threat of corrupted genes all hang over the increasingly floundering ship.

The author unravels the family dynamics in a masterful way, and just as things seem to level out – and perhaps just when the storyline threatens to become a little boring for the reader – she moves up a gear, with a twist at the end that may or may not appeal to readers. It certainly kept me gripped but I didn’t fully get carried along with the final denouement.

The setting of The Stranger in my Home, in terms of TripFiction, is not so much about actual “location” per se. However the author conjures up the feel and values of the British Middle Class, set in their own normally comfortable and safe environment, but now under extreme duress. Her writing style flows, making this a very readable and thought provoking novel.

As an aside, there is in the novel a little shout-out for Graeme Greene’s Brighton Rock, which Katherine is studying at school, with its “gang murders, suicide pacts and a sociopath” and she says “it made me want to go to Brighton…”. Now that is the power of literary wanderlust!

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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