Good morning! Welcome to another Friday here on SWB! Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Anna Downes debut novel The Safe Place.
Title: The Safe Place
Author: Anna Downes
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Publication Date: 20th August 2020
This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About The Book…
Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’s wife take care of their daughter. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again.
But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamorous facade.
Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does her bosses’ daughter refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night?
The only problem is, the more Emily knows, the less chance there is she will ever be able to leave . . .
What I Thought…
Emily had been desperate to get away from the place where she grew up, with big dreams of making it an actress in London. She finds the reality is not quite as glamorous as she had imagined. She squeezes in auditions for bit parts around her job temping as a receptionist and finds herself with an eviction notice after the rent for her flat bounces one time too many. When she’s fired from her temp job she appears close to rock bottom but then out of nowhere she is offered a fantastic opportunity, a chance to get away and work on a gorgeous estate in France but are things too good to be true?
The Safe Place is told predominantly from two points of view, that of Emily and that of her boss Scott, with flashbacks primarily from Nina, Scott’s wife’s perspective. I should say that I am reading a proof copy that Hodder sent me so there is a chance that some of the formatting I describe might change slightly in the finished book but in my copy the chapters in the present were clearly marked to show whether they were from the point of view of Emily or Scott and the flashbacks were in italic.
I really enjoyed this book but I have to say I spent the first maybe two thirds of it trying to figure out what on earth was going on. Now I certainly don’t mean that as any form of criticism! It’s just that clear to me that something strange was going on and I was desperately trying to figure out what it was in my head! Now I’m not going to include any speculation as to any of the different things that I thought might have been happening because that would totally spoil this book for you but the answer is revealed part of the way through the book. Now you might think that once you reveal what is going on the tension and the drama would be over but actually I found the opposite to be true. Once the reveal was made the tension in the book actually upped and I was desperate to get to the end to discover how it would resolve itself.
If I were to have one teeny tiny complaint about the plot it would be that I would have loved a little bit more clarity about Emily’s past. Again no spoilers but I feel there were enough references throughout the book to allow me to draw a fairly reasonable conclusion. But after everything was over I think I would have quite like just one little additional flashback that revealed the truth and exactly what it was that Scott discovered.
I do enjoy books that are told from multiple perspectives because I think it quite often gives a fuller overall picture of the characters. I think any potential bias as to how one character perceives another can be balanced out by how that same character is perceived by one of the other points of view in the story. I’m not sure that’s quite so relevant in this book but it was definitely interesting to see the story from both Emily and Scott’s perspective. I liked the way that it gave us little insights that the other character didn’t have for example discovering that certain events early on in the book are not quite as random as Emily believes them to be. You get that certain sense of foreboding without actually really being sure what anybody’s motives for doing anything are.
I don’t really want to say too much about the characters because again I’m worried about spoiling things and I think this is definitely a book that is best devoured with as little prior information as possible. I will stay that my feelings on the central characters definitely changed as time went on and as I’m writing this review, within a couple of hours of finishing the book I’m still slightly unsure of how I feel about them, particularly Scott.
I thought that The Safe Place was a wonderful debut novel from Anna Downes. I think it was well written with just the right amount of intrigue too keep you wondering exactly what was going on. I thought the setting was absolutely gorgeous if there really is a place like Querencia out there I would love to visit for a holiday! I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for anything that comes from Anna in the future.
About The Author…
Anna Downes grew up in Sheffield, UK. She studied drama at Manchester University before winning a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and moving to London to pursue an acting career. Her acting credits include EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, and Dalziel and Pascoe, as well as a long-running stage production of The Dresser in London’s West End.
In 2009 she left to go travelling with her Australian partner, a trip that included a stint working as a live-in housekeeper on a remote French estate, where the seeds for The Safe Place were sown.
Anna now lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales with
her husband and two children.
Connect With Anna
Want To Buy It?
As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?