Earlier this year I was invited to a fabulous event by Books and the City TeamBATC where I met Juliet Ashton (and other authors) and received a sample of The Woman at Number 24 in my goody bag. You can read all about that event here.
I am thrilled that since then the lovely team at Simon and Schuster have kindly sent me the finished book in return for an honest review. The Woman at Number 24 will be published on April 20th 2017 and is available for pre-order in paperback and e-book here.
The Woman at Number 24
When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.
A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?
The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom’s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential.
The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.
Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears.
My Review of The Woman at Number 24
Divided into flats, number 24 has some interesting characters including Sarah, whose ex-husband Leo lives with his new wife Helena in the flat below.
I think one word will suffice for my review of the Woman at Number 24 – wonderful. Or maybe fantastic. Or possibly outstanding. Hmm. As you can tell, I utterly adored this read.
What I loved was the sense of traditional unities so that there was a wonderful coherence to the story. I loved the fact that there was a straightforward time scale that flowed effortlessly because of the quality of the writing. The unity of place at Number 24 gives a fabulous structure with most of the action taking place there so that the house almost becomes a character in its own right.
As for the characters, they are so brilliantly wrought. Leo brought out the worst aspects of my own personality and I really did feel quite violent towards him so that slapping his face would have given me considerable pleasure. I did have to remind myself that these are actually characters and not people I really know. Mavis is a triumph, but you need to read the book to find out exactly why as to explain would spoil the read. I so wanted Sarah to be happy, and in common with the other characters, she seemed totally plausible and real. The letter from her father broke my heart. Juliet Ashton writes so well that even Mikey the hedgehog and Peck the parrot were vibrant and real.
However, it is the plotting that is the triumph here. Yes, The Woman at Number 24 fits the genre of women’s fiction perfectly, but it exceeds it too. Juliet Ashton’s plot is sublime and so clever. Of course there are predictable outcomes for some in the house but for others she uses a masterstroke of surprise. I really want to explain why but I mustn’t spoil the story for other readers.
The themes presented are mature, thoughtful and totally, totally absorbing. Our relationships with others and how we impact on one another are elements that are written about seamlessly in the context of the narrative and yet seem to transcend the confines of the story so that I couldn’t stop thinking about them when I wasn’t actually reading The Woman at Number 24.
I’ve found it quite hard to review The Woman at Number 24 because I loved it so much. Basically I just want to move in to number 24 too so that I can meet these wonderful people in person! I thought The Woman at Number 24 was amazing.
About Juliet Ashton
Juliet Ashton is just one of the nom de plumes of writer Bernadette Strachan who also co-writes musicals with her composer husband Matthew Strachan. Juliet has a daughter and dogs!