Look at Me by Sarah Duguid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lizzy's mother died two years ago, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.
This was an easy read as it was quite short and moved along with good pace. Not really a book that you could easily pop into a genre category as it had elements of a psychological thriller that could have been developed more but it was also about relationships, family dynamics and secrets.
Told by the main character Lizzie a struggling actress it follows what happens when she discovers that she has a sister she knew nothing about after she discovers a letter from Eunice (her half-sister) written to her father Julian. She confronts him and is determined to contact Eunice much to the dismay of her father and her brother Ig who prefer to let 'sleeping dogs lie'.
Once she has made contact things seem to move on at a pace when Eunice wants to meet Lizzie and finally worms her way into staying at the family home when she splits with her husband Mike. Things then appear to take a more sinister turn (this is when I believed it might be a psychological thriller) when Eunice seems to 'take over' in the house, making herself indispensable, poking into Lizzie's mothers things, putting her stamp on everything. This was such a good opportunity to develop the psychological thriller angle but it didn't happen.
We learn of Lizzy's past, Julian's love of her mother and a little about Ig her brother. Ig's character is not really developed and I felt that Lizzy's relationship with 'the director' was a bit weird. Certainly that we never learn his name is strange and makes her relationship with him appear to be very unnatural almost creepy.
Eunice appears to be neurotic and controlling, one moment appearing naive and childlike the next manipulative and scheming and I got the feeling that she was not to be trusted. In the beginning the family appear to welcome her into their home but little by little she starts to manipulate and control them.
With Lizzy having lost her mother only a few years before we see the whole family are still trying to process their grief and this really allows Eunice to gain a foothold as she slowly takes over almost without anyone really noticing - except Lizzy. When Eunice suggests clearing out some of Lizzy's mothers things that's the last straw for Lizzy and she just wants Eunice out of their lives.
I felt that the ending of the story lacked punch, I was expecting much more. I felt that Eunice arrival and her effect on the family forced them to move on after the death of the mother but Eunice character was under developed, we knew little about her apart from her being their half sister, nothing of her marriage and why she left Mike in the first place, why he took her back when she left Julian's or anything about her mother's relationship with Lizzy's father Julian.
All the characters had flaws and defects which made this fractured family work but I just felt there was something missing and the ending was not strong enough and for that reason I have given this 3 stars.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.