It seems ages since I last saw wonderful writer Amanda Jennings at the #HQCrimeStories evening. I wrote about that event here. Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Amanda’s The Cliff House which I read recently on holiday. My enormous thanks to the team at HQ for sending me a surprise copy in return for an honest review.
Published by Harper Collins’ HQ imprint, The Cliff House is available for purchase through these links.
The Cliff House
Some friendships are made to be broken
Cornwall, summer of 1986.
The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.
If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.
If only her life was as perfect as theirs.
If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.
If only she lived at The Cliff House…
My Review of The Cliff House
Tamsyn is obsessed with the cliff house, but all may not be as perfect there as it first appears.
Oh my goodness, I loved this book. There’s a languid beauty to the writing in The Cliff House. It is atmospheric, claustrophobic and with an underlying tension and menace. There’s such a perfect Gatsbyesque feel that I’m sure F.Scott Fitzgerald would be jealous that he didn’t also write The Cliff House. Amanda Jennings has created a vivid and haunting portrait of passion in all its forms and the devastating outcomes when passion consumes or fades.
The plot is poised, balanced and measured alongside the silky quality of the writing so that it hypnotises and mesmerises the reader. There are exciting events that occur, which I don’t want to say too much about because I don’t want to spoil the story for others, but for me the success of The Cliff House is the exploration of love, menace, deception and perception. Amanda Jennings understands human nature perfectly and illustrates that none of us is as we might superficially or initially appear, so that there’s a complexity to what people do in The Cliff House and why they do it, that I found utterly irresistible.
I adored the restricted palette of characters because Amanda Jennings creates a depth to every one, including the cliff house itself, that is astounding. The capacity for self-deception she exemplifies in them all is sublime. Whilst Tamsyn is the conduit for the narrative, she is complemented by all the others too. Each is guilty, each loves with a manic and destructive intensity and each of the characters is vivid, vibrant and terrifyingly real. Even now I can decide if I loathe or pity Eleanor, if I blame Rob for being the catalyst for the action or if I feel Tamsyn is a bruised innocent or an obsessed lunatic. I loved all the characters, but especially Cornwall with her capricious nature, her fickle seas and her superstitions that permeate the story.
Indeed, in The Cliff House, the setting is fantastic. Amanda Jennings creates a feeling of Cornwall’s isolation and the glass cage that is the cliff house to perfection. I was completely transported to Cornwall’s coastline when reading this book.
This is a book of dark secrets, desperate longings, beautiful settings and wonderful storytelling. I cannot recommend The Cliff House highly enough. I loved it.
About Amanda Jennings
Amanda Jennings writes psychological suspense and is the author of Sworn Secret, The Judas Scar, In Her Wake, and, most recently, The Cliff House. Her books have been published in translation. Like In Her Wake, The Cliff House is set in Cornwall, where her mother’s side of the family is from, and where she spent many long and very happy childhood summers.
Amanda is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club and enjoys meeting readers at libraries, book clubs and literary festivals. Amanda lives just outside Henley-on-Thames with her husband, three daughters and an unruly menagerie of pets, and is currently writing her fifth book which will be published in 2019.