Alys, Always by Harriet Lane
Published in 2012 by W&N
My copy: Second-hand copy
Frances is a thirty-something lowly sub-editor, but her routine, colourless existence is disrupted one winter evening when she happens upon the aftermath of a car crash and hears the last words of the driver, Alys Kyte.
When Alys’s family makes contact in an attempt to find closure, Frances is given a tantalising glimpse of a very different world: one of privilege and possibility. The relationships she builds with the Kytes will have an impact on her own life, both professionally and personally, as Frances dares to wonder whether she might now become a player in her own right …
I have quite mixed feelings about this book. I found it very well written and easy to read, and I loved the way we slowly discovered more about our narrator Frances. Following her discovery of a car wreck, we watch as she deliberately becomes embroiled with the victim Alys’s family, and it is all a bit sinister. She becomes very friendly with Alys’s daughter Polly but her friendship isn’t all it seems, and it soon becomes clear what Frances is really after…
Despite this being an enjoyable read, which I got through pretty quickly, I felt a bit ‘meh’ after I finished it. Although it is clever and enjoyable enough, I did feel it lacked something. There wasn’t really enough happening – and certainly no sign of a twist at all – and I think describing it as a thriller may be a step too far as it wasn’t thrilling at all! Although Frances was quite an intriguing character, some of those around her weren’t quite as developed, and her mother particularly was quite a stereotype of an uptight English mother. I also found a few of the relationships between Polly and members of the Kyte family a bit unbelievable too.
So this is a tricky one for me to rate overall as I did think it was clever and well written, but it did lack something and after I finished it I did feel a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a bit more to it. I had similar feelings about Her by the same author (reviewed here) but I enjoyed that one more so I have to give this one less. So it’s 6 out of 10 for Alys.
My rating: 6 out of 10