Sunday, 30 March 2014

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Day

I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. I have a fantastic Excerpt and Review for you.

Below are the other stops on the tour, so if you have missed any, go and check out their spots out for other great features.


SYNOPSIS

What do you do when your best friend steals your life?

Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty's oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears - just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France - Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.
Two weeks later and Natty finds Eve has slotted into family life too well. Natty's husband has fallen in love with Eve. He's sorry, he tells her, but their marriage is over.
With no option but to put a brave face on things for the sake of the children, Natty embarks on building a new life for herself.
And then she receives the note.


Eve has done this before, more than once, and with fatal consequences...


EXCERPT

‘EVES STAYING UNTIL Monday?’ I repeat back to Sean. ‘That’s thoughtful of her.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ he says. ‘I’m not altogether happy at Eve being in the house without you. It feels a little weird.’
A scruffy orderly passes me in the hospital corridor and I’m immersed in a cloud of alcohol vapour. I’m wondering, if I were to pull out a match and strike it, would the air around me burst into flames?
I’m reminded of Alice’s argument last night for the benefits of underage drinking, how the French – in allowing their children to drink wine at mealtimes – go a long way towards preventing binge drinking and alcoholism in later life.
I have seen no evidence of this so far. I’ve only been here a few hours and almost everyone I’ve come across reeks of either booze or cigarettes. Or both.
‘Eve’s not being a bossy-wife substitute is she?’ I say laughing. ‘No, but—’
‘Eve’s got her own problems,’ I tell him. ‘If she’s offering to

help out, let her. It’ll take her mind off Brett, if nothing else.’ ‘They having a rough patch?’
‘Before she left the States, he dropped the bombshell that he

doesn’t want children after all.’
‘Ouch,’ says Sean.
‘I know. And she’s no spring chicken either. So be nice. If she 
wants to stay and fuss over Alice, let her. Christ, Sean, we’ve got to learn to accept help from people now and again. Maybe this would be a good time to start?’
I end the call and return to Felicity’s bedside. She opened her eyes for a few short minutes around ten this morning. Frowning a little when she saw me, she whispered, ‘You’re here?’
‘’Course I am. Does it hurt?’
‘Not really,’ she said, though her voice was desperately weak. ‘What happened?’
‘Your appendix burst.’
She tried to nod as it all came back to her. ‘I didn’t feel great on the trip over . . . I was sick on the boat. And then my stomach hurt really bad.’
‘Why didn’t you phone me?’
‘Thought I’d just eaten too much processed crap,’ she said, using my phrase, trying to smile.
I am always going on at the girls for eating too much processed crap. I have a friend whose daughter went away to university last September. She sent her mother a text saying: ‘Guess what? I’ve not eaten a SINGLE VEGETABLE in over 3 weeks! What are you going to do about it?’ and I laughed along merrily with my friend. Secretly, though, I was horrified.
‘I love you, Felicity.’
And then her eyes went heavy again.
She’s sleeping very deeply now as I watch her, and I’m trying

to decide whether to chance leaving her to go and find some- thing to eat while I’ve got the chance. The teacher who was at her bedside yesterday left a bag of individually wrapped cakes, snacks and crisps, but I’m not hungry for any of that. After wrestling with the idea for a few more minutes I make the deci- sion to go out now, while Felicity’s resting.
Rifling through my bag, the only paper I can find is my boarding pass, so I write across it: ‘Gone for Food. Love you, Mum xx’, and place it on the bed by Felicity’s right hand.
It’s only when I’m out in the car park that I remember I’ve no currency. There wasn’t time to get Euros at the airport last night. I look around, kind of helpless, because this is no holiday resort. This is rural France. The France that young English families embraced after the deluge of relocation programmes promised cheap property, old-fashioned values, and three-hour lunch breaks. The France of smallholdings, of friendly neighbours,
bilingual children and good health care.
The France they tried their damnedest to escape when they

realized there wasn’t a whole lot going on.
Within my immediate sight, there are no shops, so I get into

the car. The road on which the hospital stands is a single carriageway flanked by rows of plane trees. Their trunks are mottled with patches of taupe and olive, much like desert army combats, and their roots raise the road surface in places, cracking the asphalt. Shuttered houses lining the road are painted in various shades of French grey. Aged Peugeots and Citroëns, rusting around the wheel arches, jut out into the road. There is no shame in bad parking here. It’s as if each driver has jumped out and abandoned his vehicle before coming to a com- plete stop.
I pass three ladies’ hairdressers’ and am just about to turn back and go in the other direction when I spot Aldi. Breathing a sigh of relief, I take a right.
I wouldn’t be seen dead in a discount supermarket at home, but now, as I push through the glass door, I could kiss the assis- tant unloading plant seeds and potting compost from a big roll pallet.
The store is small. Four aisles stacked with the absolute basics I’ll need to survive for the next week. And it accepts my debit card, which is the kind of small miracle I was hoping for.
I scan around and reckon I can be in and out of the place in five minutes. It’s practically empty, just one other shopper – a woman with a toddler – loading up her trolley with supersized tins of Toulouse cassoulet.
I grab a baguette (half the weight of the French sticks in England), some Coulommiers Destrier – my all-time-favourite French cheese – and two tins of anchovy-stuffed green olives. Then into the basket I put tomatoes, apples, sanitary towels for Felicity, just in case, as I can’t imagine hospital-issue pads will be welcomed by her, and lastly, as an afterthought, a bottle of Bordeaux. I have the feeling I’ll need a drink once tonight comes around. I refrain from buying any goodies for Felicity, as the doctor said she won’t be eating yet, and when she does it will be a diet of bland food to see how her digestive system copes.
I pay without trouble, the cashier even giving me fifty Euros cash back when I gesture to the till saying, ‘S’il vous plaît?’ apolo- getically, and I’m almost starting to feel a little better about things, thinking I’m going to be okay here for a while, when I get a text from Alice. It says:
‘Eve being absolutely brilliant!’
I read the words twice and feel a wave of queasiness wash through me. Like I’ve opened the fridge and got a whiff of food gone bad, but can’t spot where it is. I tell myself to read nothing into it. It’s simply Alice’s way of letting me know not to worry about her, that everything is okay at home.
But I can’t shake this feeling. Is this jealousy? Am I seriously jealous that another woman is taking good care of my daughter?
And I realize I am.
Disgusted at myself, I send Eve a quick text.
Thank you, I tell her. Thank you so much for being there

for us.


REVIEW

Wow! This was absolutely fantastic! So well thought out and it constantly kept me on the edge of my seat! This was definitely one of those books that I just could not get out of my head. I had to keep reading! I needed to know what was going to happen.

Natty and Sean's relationship is rock solid to those looking from the outside in, but there are just the tiniest of cracks in their marriage, that someone who knows them very well can spot and make those cracks turn into gaping holes. So when Natty makes a mad dash to be by her sick daughter's side in France; her best friend Eve is only too happy to help at home!

I had a lot of angry emotions whilst reading this! It definitely got my hackles rising and I was always on Natty's side, despite some of the things that come to light! There is so much I want to say! I literally want to vent out all my anger at what happened in this, I was that engrossed and involved in this incredible story.

It definitely gets you thinking about whether you truly know your friends and the title itself is thought provoking as it links to that old saying, "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer". Maybe Natty needed to keep Eve closer? None of the characters are at all what they seem on the surface. Each had their own hidden secrets; even those you least expect them from and it was this that made Keep Your Friends Close stand out from other psychological thrillers. 

Due to how involved I got in this story, the ending did leave me feeling a little frustrated. I would really have liked it to be wrapped up more rather than leaving us to make our own decisions as to what happened. There were also a few unanswered questions that I really would have liked to have answered. Still, the ending was different in that sense and sometimes it can be a good thing o be left to make your own mind up and I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

Paula Daly wrote this so expertly! You really do not know what is coming whilst reading and it is this that compels you to read on until the end.

Compelling, gripping and shocking. A psychological thriller you need on your reading pile!

5/5


Keep Your Friends Close is available from Amazon UK and Waterstones

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