The Couple Next Door – Book review

Just finished: The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena

When I saw that this book was hailed the new The Girl on the Train I thought, oh no, I’ve already read that. Will this book bore me to death? The similarities are obvious from the get-go, but so are the differences. Both are worth a read.

The most obvious difference to me was that this isn’t a first-person narrative. At first I thought this would completely ruin the story, an omniscient narrator can give too much away to the reader, making solving the mystery way too easy. At times, I felt the narrator did give too much away, but they did always remember what certain characters didn’t know when they went into their minds.

It’s a funny little book really, 300ish pages about a story just about a baby going missing from its crib. Surely, given how condensed stories become when put into these kind of novels, it wouldn’t take 300 pages to find this baby? Or to not find this baby?

It starts with Anne and Marco, the parents, at a party next door with Cynthia and Graham. Marco gets pretty drunk, Anne gets pretty upset, Cora (the baby) gets pretty missing.

Kind of spoiler alert: you find out who took the baby out the crib exactly halfway through……(I know right?!). But that gives you an indication of just how many twists there are to this tale. It isn’t that simple.

Basically, the possibilities you’re given are:

Cynthia, the neighbour, has taken the child because she is jealous that Anne, the child’s mother, spends more time with the baby now than with her supposed best friend.

Anne, in the mist of postnatal depression and a history of mental illness, has done something to her own baby and forgotten. Marco, the baby’s father, may or may not have covered this up for her.

But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t be an extra 150 pages after finding out, would there? I guessed what happened a total four times (I think…), getting it right in the end (as always, may I add).

Now it’s your turn. I read it in less than 24 hours. The Couple Next Door makes you just as nosy as the title would suggest.

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Book Review: ‘The Artificial Silk Girl’ – Irmgard Keun

Translated by Kathie von Ankum from the German original, this short novel should be deemed a masterpiece in 20th century literature. However, due to Nazi censorship it was sadly almost forgotten about.

A revival of the novel came about at the turn of the century, and after reading it I can understand why.

Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The Artificial Silk Girl’ – Irmgard Keun”