Katherine Faulkner’s debut novel, Greenwich Park, is nearly flawless. Told from three unique points of view, only one of them 100% reliable, and one point of view that we hear throughout the book, though the identity is kept a secret, revealed in the last chapter. This book has it all; robust characters, surprising twists, many secrets and a shocker at the end and it is all so well played.
Helen, married to Daniel, is expecting her “rainbow baby” after four miscarriages. Serena, Helen’s sister-in-law, expecting her first baby, is married to Helen’s brother, Rory, who is Daniel’s partner in Rory’s architecture firm they inherited from their father Richard. Kate, a journalist, is dating Helen’s younger brother, Charlie, and is the most reliable of the narrators. And then we meet Rachel; Helen befriends her at her prenatal class, in which her husband and sister-in-law, supposed to attend with her, don’t show up. Though it is hard for the reader to imagine Helen’s attraction to Rachel, as Rachel is wild, smokes and drinks while pregnant, and mysteriously shows up wherever Helen is, they form a friendship and bond as they are both on early maternity leave. But who is Rachel, and what is her fascination with Helen? And how does she seem to know so many things about Helen’s life? When Rachel shows up at Helen’s home, with finger marks around her throat, and asks for a place to stay until she can get on her feet, things escalate. Unfortunately, Helen comes across as a doormat, not standing up to her while Rachel steals things from their house, trashes her room and wears Helen’s deceased mother’s clothing. As two weeks turn into many weeks, it seems Rachel has no intention of going anywhere, and furthermore, Helen believes she may know who the father of Rachel’s baby is.
Helen and Serena are expecting their babies at the same time, though they appear to be having very different pregnancies. Helen is fraught with worry and anxiety, while Serena seems relaxed, though cold and self-absorbed. Regardless, Helen worships Serena, even buying the same jewelry she admires on her sister-in-law. Throughout the story, there are flashbacks to Helen and Serena’s friendship and how terrible Serena has been to her. Throughout Greenwich Park, we are constantly reminded of how gullible Helen is, and we want to jump through the book and shake her a bit.
Kate, Charlie’s girlfriend and the only reliable narrator, is a reporter investigating the rape case of a young girl, which brings her to another incident at Cambridge college that happened ten years ago. But her digging takes her to the different direction she never intended to go! Though Charlie and Helen are not close, as Charlie has always been the outcast, he plays an interesting role that becomes more important as the novel goes on.
I loved this roller coaster ride so much! It is definitely a page turner and I read in one sitting. The action is slow building, but then quickly becomes intense as things escalate with Rachel. As the reader, I enjoyed not knowing where the story was going and the ride to get there. It is difficult to describe the potency of this novel. It was mind bending and powerful. There is a twist right at the end that will leave you reeling. Wait for it.