We All Begin As Strangers was published in the UK last week, and is the debut novel by author Harriet Cummings. I was delighted to be asked by Orion Books to take part in the blog tour for the novel, and I thank them and the author for the opportunity.
Read on to find out more and read my honest review.
Inspired by true events – a beautiful debut about an English village pushed to the brink, and the secrets its residents are desperate to protect.
It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary village of Heathcote.
A mysterious figure is sneaking into homes through backdoors and open windows. Dubbed ‘the Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.
When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes the Fox is responsible.
For the worried residents, finding Anna will be difficult – but stopping the Fox from exposing their darkest secrets might just be impossible…
The first thing that really intrigued me about this novel was the fact it was based on real events in the village in which the author grew up in the 1980s. And the novel certainly transports the reader straight away to that period in time.
We soon get to know the residents of the small village which is the venue of strange and mysterious happenings, and there is an almost gossipy feel to some of the writing, as we find out about the different residents and their backgrounds.
But the real mystery at the heart of the book is the strange and seemingly relatively harmless break-ins suffered by several of the villagers – which then escalates when one of the more popular villagers disappears completely. This event causes the villagers to question one another, and the tension amongst them grows…
For me it was definitely the setting of the book that made it an enjoyable read. The positives and negatives of living within such a tight knit community really came across well and there was a sense of the almost claustrophobic feel of living in close quarters and knowing – or wanting to know – everyone else’s business. The village setting and the characters gives the novel an almost old-fashioned feel, which I found quite comforting in a way.
The characters themselves are also well presented – they have interesting lives of their own which we slowly piece together as the novel progresses – and of course there is the mystery surrounding the disappearance of poor Anna…
This is a really lovely read, and despite the seriousness of the storyline, it is still easy to read. I also loved some of the nods towards the 80s, which really strengthened the book’s setting. Overall, I very enjoyable novel by a very promising new author.
My rating: 8 out of 10