When I began blogging four and a half years ago, lovely Louise Jensen was one of the first authors I met in real life. Since then we have encountered one another on several occasions, including at my local Deepings Literary Festival, and I am delighted to be part of the paperback launch celebrations for Louise’s latest book, The Family and would like to thank Jessica Lee for inviting me to participate. However, I’m also taking part with a sense of shame and guilt too as I realised this is the first time I’ve reviewed one of Louise’s books. It won’t be the last time!
The Family is published by Harper Collins imprint HQ and is available for purchase through the links here.
ONCE YOU’RE IN, THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE.
Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.
But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.
Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…
My Review of The Family
Laura’s life is in meltdown and she needs a place to stay.
I’m so annoyed with myself that The Family is the first book I’ve read by Louise Jensen as it is a stunning narrative that held me captivated from the first word to the last. She has such writing skill in employing a variety of sentence length that controls the reader’s heart rate and compels them to read on, especially at the end of chapters. I loved too, the balance of inner and external dialogue so that the reader gets an insight that the characters may not, making the reader almost complicit in the action. Add in the excellent descriptive passages, the carefully structured plotting and the other perfectly blended cultural references such as omens, The Wizard of Oz and fairy tales and The Family really is a fabulous book because Louise Jensen creates an underlying sense of dread that is totally gripping.
The different perceptions of events from Laura and Tilly’s perspectives were fascinating, because the author explores with sensitive skill the way actions can mean very different things to those participating or observing. This felt like a wonderful insight into the human psyche. I found the ease with which invidious situations can be rationalised and accepted, especially by Laura, illustrated perfectly how the vulnerable can be controlled and manipulated. It was this psychological element that made The Family so disturbing for me. I wanted to enter the world of Oak Leaf Organics and rescue Laura and Tilly before they came to harm. I can’t say too much more about characters as they are integral to the plot’s success and I don’t want to spoil the read for others.
The plot simply canters along with a breathless pace that is exhilarating. The Family twists and turns and wrong-foots so that there are surprises as well as satisfying resolutions. I genuinely felt I had been fabulously entertained and at the same time I found the themes of trust, threat, bullying, mental health, society and family gave me much to ponder too. The Family is absolutely a book perfect for the point we are at in modern civilisation. Louise Jensen holds up a mirror to society and presents it with all its flaws and perfections in a riveting story.
I loved The Family. I appreciated the tautness of the plot, the narrative resolutions, twists and reveals, and the wonderful overall quality of the writing. I think I may have found a new favourite psychological thriller writer in Louise Jensen. Brilliant stuff. I cannot recommend The Family highly enough.
About Louise Jensen
Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, is published by Harper Collins.
The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.
Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.
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