What She Left by Rosie Fiore ★★★★☆
Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Thanks to Rachel (Rachel’s Random Resources) for organising this blog tour. I was sent a copy of this novel for free, but all opinions are honest and my own.
Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She’s beautiful, accomplished, organised – the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.
But Helen wasn’t abducted or murdered. She’s chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home.
Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life.
He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He’s losing control.
But then one day, it really is Helen’s face he sees…
Here is a novel which borders on the edge of mystery. Why would a women just walk away from her seemingly happy life?
Fiore explores this through multiple perspectives, seeing how this impacts her husband and step child, as well as viewing the situation as an outsider. Each character has a distinct voice, and all are very morally grey, giving them a very real feeling.
This will keep you gripped right to the end, on a rollarcoaster of emotions.
(Trigger warning: sexual assault – not graphic)
If you want a taste of the novel, I’m here to help:
Sam Cooper’s wife Helen disappears one weekday afternoon. The police are looking for her, but in desperation Sam posts and appeal to Facebook late on the same day. He is woken by a phone call from a parent from school the next morning.
“I must have dozed off for a while because the next thing I knew, I was being jerked awake by my phone ringing on the arm of the chair beside me.
‘Hello?’ I sounded fuzzy and gruff.
‘Sam!’ The voice was female, breathy and light. I didn’t recognize it. ‘I’m so sorry, did I wake you?’
‘No, no.’ I struggled to sit upright, ran a hand through my hair. ‘Who is this?’
‘Ella, Helen’s friend from the school. I was just ringing to see if you’d heard anything. Such an awful thing, isn’t it?’
‘No news,’ I said, trying, in my bleary state, to remember which of the women Ella was. I glanced at my watch. It was just after seven.
‘Nothing from the Facebook post?’ she asked. ‘That’s gone crazy. I thought you might have got some calls from that.’
I got up from the armchair and, with Ella still talking in my ear, wandered over to Helen’s PC and turned it on again. Ella was explaining that she and some of the other mothers had made us some food and would be dropping it off once they’d taken the kids to school.
‘We won’t stay, of course,’ she said. ‘We don’t want to intrude…’ There was a note of wistfulness in her voice, as if she were hoping I might ask her to come in. I found that strange. Did she really want to be in the middle of our family disaster?
The PC had booted up and I opened Facebook. I had four thousand notifications. I didn’t know it was possible to have four thousand notifications. My post had been shared hundreds of times, and there were multiple comments attached to each share. I looked through a few of them, but as far as I could see, they were all people ‘sending love and prayers’, or saying how pretty Helen was and they hoped she would be found safe. I had dozens of private messages and emails too, but these too were messages of support rather than any concrete thoughts on where Helen might be. There were so many, though, and it had spread so far, that I wondered if I’d be able to find the one comment which held a real clue, even if there was one.
I was still holding the phone to my ear and I could hear Ella twittering anxiously.
‘Thank you so much,’ I said, although I hadn’t heard anything she’d said for the last few minutes. ‘I’ll be in touch as soon as we hear anything.’
She kept talking, but I said, ‘I have to go. Bye, Ella,’ as firmly as I could and disconnected the call.
I heard a faint noise behind me and turned to see that Miranda was awake, lying on her side on the sofa, watching me with her big dark eyes.
‘Is she back?’
‘Is she dead, Daddy?’
‘No, my love,’ I said, going to sit beside her and hug her. ‘Of course not. She’ll be back, I’m sure of it.’
In all of Miranda’s eight years of life, that was the first time I had ever lied to her. Helen had simply vanished. Helen, who was as constant as the sea, who had been my touchstone for the past five years. If she was gone, how could I be sure of anything?”
About the Author
Rosie Fiore was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied drama at the University of the Witwatersrand and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazines, advertising, comedy and the corporate market.
Her first two novels, This Year’s Black and Lame Angel were published by Struik in South Africa. This Year’s Black was longlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Award and has subsequently been re-released as an e-book. Babies in Waiting, Wonder Women and Holly at Christmas were published by Quercus. She is the author of After Isabella, also published by Allen & Unwin.
Rosie’s next book, The After Wife (written as Cass Hunter), will be published by Trapeze in 2018, and in translation is seven countries around the world.
Rosie lives in London with her husband and two sons.
Go and check out the rest of the posts on the tour!