It’s my pleasure to be on the blog tour today for The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my blog tour invite and review copy of the book. The Secrets of Strangers was published by Allen and Unwin on May 7th.
A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for a group of strangers whose paths cross in a London café – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage. But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?
I adore Charity Norman’s writing so I was thrilled to get a copy of The Secrets of Strangers to read and review. My favourite book of hers has always been After The Fall…until now! Because The Secrets of Strangers is a beautifully written, memorable book that had me gripped within its power the whole time I was reading it.
A normal morning and we are introduced to the central characters of this book shortly before they walk into their worst nightmare. A homeless man and his dog, an exhausted care worker and a solicitor awaiting the results of a pregnancy test are all destined to be in a local cafe just minutes before a gunman enters firing shots and then taking everyone in the cafe hostage. But Charity Norman doesn’t use this as a hero versus villain scenario but instead slowly develops her storyline so that sympathy’s are always directed to where you would expect. Each character is carefully crafted for a realistic premise with no black or white answers to the questions raised by this atrocity. The acts of violence themselves are handled well, conveying the horror of the situation but without being gratuitous or voyeuristic. There is no expectation of moral judgement here, it’s just normal people facing an abnormal situation and dealing with it the best they know how.
I had no idea how much my emotions would be flipped around as I gradually came to understand the situation that had arisen in this small London Café. It’s a heartbreaking story, reminding us that there are people out there from all walks of life who are struggling but equally there are just as many who are there to help in any way in which they can. No one knows how they will react in an unprecedented situation like this so I throughly enjoyed watching the different reactions to what was happening and why.
The Secrets of Strangers is one of the most affecting books that I’ve read this year. It’s a compelling story that stayed me with for a long time after I had finished it. Some beautifully emotive writing and characters who were interesting and brave. I absolutely loved it!
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand.
THE SECRETS OF STRANGERS is her sixth novel.
Find Charity on Facebook at facebook.com/charitynormanauthor and on Twitter as @charitynorman1.