About this book…
Who do you know better? Your oldest friend? Or your child?
And who should you believe when one accuses the other of an abhorrent crime?
Jules and Holly have been best friends since university. They tell each other everything, trading revelations and confessions, and sharing both the big moments and the small details of their lives: Holly is the only person who knows about Jules’s affair; Jules was there for Holly when her husband died. And their two children – just three years apart – have grown up together.
So when Jules’s daughter Saffie makes a serious allegation against Holly’s son Saul, neither woman is prepared for the devastating impact this will have on their friendship or their families.
Especially as Holly, in spite of her principles, refuses to believe her son is guilty.
I’m a HUGE Penny Hancock fan!! If I had a laminated list of my top 5 favourite authors (please say that people do this?!) then she would definitely be on it! Every year I bid on her donation in the Clic Sargent charity auction over on eBay and every year I curse my parents for bringing me up to be sensible with money (know your limit Joanne and NEVER GO OVER IT!) as I’m always outbid. Last year I saw some proof copies of the latest Penny Hancock book over on Twitter and instantly drooled over them asking if any were going to be available for bloggers who were super fans (ie ME!!) and was told that they were unfortunately trade copies bound for the Frankfurt Book Fair. But the lovely Sam Humphreys at Mantle found a spare proof for me and I shall love her forever for it! I read it as soon as it arrived but then thought it too early to share my review. I was sorting through my bookcase last weekend and came across that much treasured copy and realised I’d never written that review! The positive side of this is that within 5 minutes I was sitting on the floor by the bookshelf reading it once again and I have to say that second time around I STILL found this book to be one of the most thought provoking, heartbreaking and utterly compelling books that I’ve read in recent months! Yes, I devoured it TWICE and loved it just as much (if not MORE!) after that repeat reading as I had done the day it arrived in the post last year.
Jules and Holly have been friends since university and know everything about each other. They support each other through their toughest life challenges and talk daily no matter how busy they are. Holly moved to the Fens from London after she was widowed but she’s now happily remarried, although her teenage son Saul seems to get unhappier by the day. Jules is also having teenager troubles with her daughter Saffie but in rather different circumstances. So when Saffie makes a serious allegation about Saul, it blows the relationships between their two families apart and has far reaching consequences that neither woman could ever have foreseen.
We watch with horror as this story unfolds from both Holly’s and Jules perspectives. Be warned that this is a harrowing journey Penny Hancock takes us on as the accusations Saffie makes are difficult to read at times. But the exquisitely detailed relationship between Holly and Jules was what connected me to the narrative and kept me there, transfixed by the unraveling of everything they thought they knew about each other…and their children. As a parent you always want to believe the best in your child but was Holly being naive in her strongly defensive support of her son? I found her difficult to warm to for that very reason but that didn’t stop me feeling sorry for her when she did start to discover some shocking facts about her son. I probably took to Jules more but then again I didn’t like the way she reacted either! I do think that Penny Hancock totally nailed this current trend in helicopter parenting that is always well meant but is raising a generation of young adults scared of failure, less able to adapt to new situations or to take responsibility for their actions.
I Thought I Knew You will make you question your friendships, your relationship and even your own parenting. Do we ever really know those closest to us? When times get tough do those we expect to be there for us stand up to scrutiny or does loyalty only exist when the truth is laid bare? I loved challenging my expectations and beliefs, playing devils advocate with my own opinions on what really occurred that night. This meant that I was gripped from the very first line of this book until the shocking moments that played out in the final denouement but I then wanted the book to continue! These families had become such an integral part of my life for the short time that I was with them that I wanted to continue that contact moving forwards. A strange feeling but one that lifted this book to another level for me, an emotional but insightful one.
Truly a brilliantly emotive and conflicting read that I’ve no hesitation in recommending!
Meet the author…
Penny Hancock was born and grew up in South East London. She is an author, teacher and journalist. Her new novel I THOUGHT I KNEW YOU is the story of the far reaching impact on all the members of two families, especially the mothers, after a shocking allegation. It published by Mantle and comes out in spring 2019.
Tideline (about a woman who keeps a young boy captive in her riverside home) a Richard and Judy Summer read in 2012 was featured on Simon Mayo’s drive time book club on Radio 2.
Before writing novels Penny wrote English Language Readers for learners of English, published by Cambridge University Press. Within High Fences won an English Readers Foundation award.
The mother of two grown up daughters and a son, Penny currently lives in a village outside Cambridge but remains a Londoner at heart.