I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse
Published by Bloomsbury USA on January 21st 2014
Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean.
Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard.
But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S. and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah’s certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark’s colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks?
Hannah begins to dig into her husband’s life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her...
Hannah has always held herself back from love for fear of becoming like her acrimonious mother after suffering through the divorce from her father. Her uncertainties ceased to exist when she meets Mark; a fellow Brit and a friend of a friend. They fall in love instantaneously and they are married shortly after. A few months into their marriage, Mark is on a business trip to the U.S. and when Hannah was expected to pick him up from his return flight he’s not there. Fearing the worst, she’s finally able to get a hold of him but his excuses only cause her suspicions to grow. As her concerns continue to mount, the cracks in her life begin to appear and nothing is as it seems.
The story alternates between the present and the past, when she first met Mark, and rehashes she knows about him. Hannah’s uncertainties make her realize foolishly how little she truly knows about her husband which causes her to investigate and uncover unpleasant information. ‘Before We Met’ captured flawlessly how suspicion and doubt can morph into a crazed paranoia where you aren’t able to clearly discern what is right before your eyes. The building tension is well-done and turned this into quite a page-turner, however, it was quite clear what was going on before Hannah finally caught up with the rest of us. I kept hoping that an unexpected twist would happen at the end but it never did.
I have always been a fan of psychological thrillers and while I understand that comparisons to other novels of the same genre are bound to occur, I can only expect there to be some semblance of originality. Having read ‘Gone Girl’ last year, the comparisons to ‘Before We Met’ are great and while there are slight differences, it only managed to come off as a weaker interpretation. I did have the same issue with both books though, where so much crazy had happened throughout the novel that by the end it had all become so disheveled and unrecognizable from the beginning. It all ended up being a bit too contrived for my liking.
‘Before We Met’ works that little paranoid nerve in all of us by serving as a reminder that you’re never able to truly know a person completely, even the ones you love and have devoted your life to.