Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Look What You Made Me Do - Nikki Smith

About the book… 

Two people can keep a secret . . . if one of them is dead.

Sisters Jo and Caroline are used to hiding things from each other. They've never been close - taking it in turns to feel on the outside of their family unit, playing an endless game of favourites.

Jo envies Caroline's life - things have always come so easy to her. Then a family inheritance falls entirely to Jo, and suddenly now Caroline wants what Jo has. Needs it, even.

But just how far will she go to get it?

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About the author… 

Nikki Smith studied English Literature at Birmingham University, before pursuing a career in finance. Following a ‘now or never’ moment, she applied for a Curtis Brown Creative course where she started writing this book. She lives near Guildford with her family and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. All In Her Head is her first novel.

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My thoughts…

Look What You Made Me Do is Nikki Smith’s second novel, her first All In Her Head, I read as part of an on-line book club back in January and it was in fact my first read of 2021. It was a read that totally floored me and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her Nikki’s second novel.

This is a book that equally sucked me in and spat me out. The emotions I felt whilst reading were intense and I found myself giving little head shakes and cursing ‘oh no’ on more occasions than I can count. I can only describe the author as pure evil (obviously in a good way, I know she’s not really), the emotions evoked whilst reading Look What You Made Me Do were vast, when I closed my eyes, the images were imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. Time and again I wanted to rip the virtual film out of my minds camera to wipe out the imagery conjured - but of course, I couldn’t!

The narrative centres around two sisters, Jo and Caroline and their respective families, both of which have an outward persona that we find out doesn’t actually resemble reality. There’s more than a bit of sisterly rivalry and jealousy, it’s not helped when Jo is left the larger share of a family inheritance.

I think that Nikki nailed the ‘keeping up appearances’ aspect of this story by a country mile - as the story progresses cracks start to appear within the family dynamics, the sisters talked less and less - not wanting the other to know what was going on in their lives. With the narrative told from both sisters and their husbands perspective, we as a reader are privy to and have a birds eye view of a range of emotions and scenarios - the jealousy, trust, abuse both mental and physical was at times sickening to read. If a book could hear it would be deaf with the shouting of advise I constantly gave.

Nikki Smith dangled clues on threads, just out of reach - keeping me guessing until the last chapters on the full reality of this emotionally charged and at times quite dark read. As when reading All In Her Head I couldn’t shift that sickening feeling of unease and dread as I turned the pages, wanting my imagination to shut up - it didn’t and again when I finished reading I could only mouth wow, that was brilliant - such an incredibly layered tale that was never going to end well for everyone. As with the first novel I’ve been shouting about this one to everyone I know and most members of our book club have downloaded it to read too.

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