Crikey, am I grateful to Hannah Robinson at Quercus for an advanced reader copy of The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins in return for an honest review.
Published in e-book and hardback by Quercus on 4th May 2017, The Night Visitor is available for pre-order here.
The Night Visitor
Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.
Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.
As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.
The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?
My Review of The Night Visitor
TV historian Professor Olivia Sweetman has a new book out and is riding high, but all is not as it seems.
Oh my goodness! The Night Visitor is just my kind of read. I love a psychological thriller and The Night Visitor has every element that I adore, from almost Gothic symbolism to characters that put me in mind of some of the most damaged women in literature such as Dickens’ Miss Havisham and Du Maurier’s Mrs Danvers.
I so want to mention specific images or phrases but I know that this will spoil the read for others. Suffice it to say that The Night Visitor is meticulously planned, down to the smallest word so that every nuance, every phrase, every full stop adds depth and quality to highly intelligent and utterly hypnotising reading. The title itself is just perfect, there being different interpretations throughout the narrative and I’m unsure which version of ‘the night visitor’ image I found most disturbing. Omens and portents pepper the text adding layers of suggestion.
From the first moment, as Olivia is standing at a vertiginous height to deliver her book launch speech, I was hooked, on edge as I read and totally captivated. The quality of the language is so flawless that a simple, seemingly innocuous word can shock the reader completely. I had to keep putting down the book, breathing and giving myself a break, before being compelled to read on. I think what is so good about The Night Visitor comes from what isn’t written, as much as what is. Lucy Atkins understands the power of suggestion and she doesn’t resolve everything fully so that the reader’s own imagination contributes to the enjoyment in the book.
The two main characters, Olivia and Vivian, are absolutely outstanding creations. Neither woman is likeable and yet they both draw in the read so that it is impossible not to want to know what happens to them. They are the living embodiment of ego, obsession, deception and manipulation. What I found so awful is that it is easy to see just how we deceive ourselves and create our own self-serving truth and morality.
I also really appreciated the scientific elements underpinning (and I use that word advisedly!) the narrative. Coleopterology, academia, publishing and the media are all themes explored convincingly and sometimes uncomfortably in ways that would not let me tear myself away.
Readers who want a beautifully crafted, meticulously planned and gripping psychological thriller that makes them think, need look no further. Lucy Atkins’ The Night Visitor delivers everything those readers could possibly want and more. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
About Lucy Atkins
Lucy Atkins is the author of three acclaimed novels: The Night Visitor (May 2017), The Missing One (2014) and The Other Child (2015), published by Quercus. She has also written, co-written or ghost-written seven non-fiction books including the Amazon nuber one selling parenting title, First Time Parent (Collins).
Lucy is a book critic for The Sunday Times and regularly appears on BBC radio Oxford’s Book Club. She was a feature journalist for many years for UK newspapers including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Express and magazines such as Red, Woman & Home, Psychologies and Grazia. Lucy lives with her family in Oxford, UK.