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.
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2qUxBB1
Lucy Atkins is an award-winning feature journalist and author who has written several non-fiction books and two novels: The Missing One and The Other Child. She is a Sunday Times book critic and has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She regularly chairs events at the Oxford Festival and Cheltenham Festival and regularly talks about books on BBC Radio Oxford. She lives in Oxford with her family.
I was offered a copy of The Night Visitor to review as part of the blog tour organised by Alainna at Quercus Books. Having read and reviewed Lucy's last book The Other Child I jumped at the chance.
The Night Visitor is a book that once I picked it up I didn't want to put down. It crackles with the sort of nervous tension that preludes a storm and makes you feel just a little bit on edge from the very first page. It begins as Olivia, an academic historian, turned author, turned minor tv celebrity is launching her latest novel. A novel based on the findings of an old diary kept by Annabel Burley who in Victorian times was one of the first female doctors in this country. This is a huge release and is destined to be a bestseller so the pressure is really on for Olivia.
It's very obvious that Olivia is in terrible turmoil, she is at odds with her husband, there are tensions with her children and also Vivian Tester, the woman who introduced her to Annabel's story. Through Annabel's story their lives had become entwined, with Vivian attaching herself to Olivia and Olivia inadvertently taking her on as a researcher whilst she writes her book. She clearly has more than just an obsession for detail, a trait that Olivia finds both pleasing and uncomfortable as she finds herself having to keep her at arms length, Vivian's behaviour becoming more and more obsessive.
This is a psychological thriller with a difference, in the fact that we had two main characters to unravel and a whole host of others added along the way — each and every one bringing intrigue and questions to the story. It's a unique story in that there is no natural 'goody' or 'baddy'. The Night Visitor is told alternately from Olivia's perspective and then Vivian's - it's very obvious that neither women really like each other yet at the same time and for different reasons need each other. It was difficult at times to decide whether I really liked either character at all, both very different, yet in many ways they were both very similar.
Both protagonists are twisted, selfish, cold, calculating and manipulating in their own way — each looking out for no' one. Yet, at times I felt an uneasy admiration and pity for them.
Once again, Lucy's descriptive skills are brilliant, she got inside my head with both the characters and the physical descriptions of places, with the intricacies of what at first appeared a simple story. A story that got right under my skin. Half formed questions popped into my mind constantly demanding answers to situations that couldn't quite be explained. Each of these saw me turning the pages faster and faster — wanting to calm my racing heartbeat. At the same time, holding my breathe. So many times I held my breathe, untangled the story, decided what was happening and why only to change my mind again with the next chapter. I don't think I've cussed and cursed out loud about characters for a long time as much as I did in The Night Visitor.
This is a dark twisty book that was utterly compelling and left me second guessing write up until the final page — between Olivia and Vivian I know longer feel like ` know my own mind and wonder if I'll ever stop questioning and doubting my decisions and thoughts — utterly brilliant, thank you so much Lucy for another amazing read.