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The Holiday by T.M. Logan - Review

Friday, June 19, 2020

I bought this book last year at the new bookshop in Barnsley - which I hope survives the current crisis - because I just saw it on the shelf and the premise intrigued me. I finally got around to it because I was wanting something set somewhere abroad, on holiday, as I've now had two holidays cancelled (one in April, one yet to come) and am desperate to be somewhere that isn't my own house!

The premise is that four families go away together for a week in Provence and lots of secrets come to light, and things turn deadly. Let me tell you first of all: everyone in this book is a terrible human being. The only person worth anything was Daniel, who's nine years old. Possibly his sister, Lucy, who's sixteen - I felt a lot of sympathy for her.

The main narrator of the book is Kate. She is about to turn forty, she's married to Sean, and they have two children, Lucy and Daniel. Her life isn't exactly perfect, but there's not a lot of excitement going on either. She is quite a dull forty year old, to be honest. On the first day of the holiday she is looking at Sean's phone when she discovers some text messages between him and "CoralGirl", which lead her to believe he's having an affair. What's more, the context of the messages means that the woman in question must be one of her friends who she's here in France with. Instead of doing a normal thing and confronting Sean, Kate lets it fester, and begins to suspect each of her friends in turn.

Her friends on the holiday are Rowan, Jennifer, and Izzy, all of whom she met at university twenty plus years ago and has stayed in touch with ever since. Somehow, she and Jennifer live close enough that their children go to the same school, and close enough to Rowan to go over to hers for dinner parties. That is never explained but it didn't ring that true for me when it comes to university friends.

Rowan is married to Russ and they have a little girl called Odette. She's a spoilt brat - she needed to be told to sit down and shut up, to be honest. Rowan's business is about to be bought out by a huge American company, meaning a multi million dollar pay out for her (which no one seems too bothered about? But maybe that's because they're all quite posh and live in London - presumably in houses they own - anyway?). She's definitely acting cagey, so Kate suspects her. Rowan and Russ are pretty one-dimensional and are largely forgotten for most of the book.

Jennier and Alistair have teenaged boys, Jake and Ethan, aged just eleven months apart - they're both fifteen at this point in time. Jennifer gave up a "glittering career" as a physiotherapist to have her children, and now works part time in their school office. Alistair is a therapist, and he was a confusing human all together. Jennifer is a ridiculously over protective mother, following the boys all over and fussing over things that honestly fifteen year olds are old enough to sort out by themselves. She is really not a nice person. There's a bit where Alistair is looking at Lucy's social media and there's an inference that he fancies her - even though she's only sixteen - but then this plot line goes absolutely nowhere and gets forgotten. Terrible. Kate sees something that leads her to believe Sean might be having an affair with Jennifer.

The last person is Izzy. She's been living abroad so arrives into France a bit later than all the others. She's painted as quite exotic and mysterious. She speaks to Kate about someone she might be seeing. She and Sean grew up together in Ireland and are friends outside of Kate, so Kate of course thinks Izzy is seeing Sean and tries to question her about it. Izzy is possibly the least problematic adult in the whole book, but we barely see anything of her.

Kate's children... Lucy is just sixteen. She's doing entirely normal things that sixteen year olds do, but Kate just cannot leave her alone and is pushing way too hard to get Lucy to talk to her. Daniel is trying to impress the big boys and is very sweet in doing so, bless him.

Interspersed with Kate's narrative are little vignettes from everyone else's point of view, some of which give more clues about what's going on and some of which don't. I thought there were too many plot strands and not enough closure on them at the end. I just thought Kate was like a wet weekend. I also thought that the ages were strange - they're all turning forty (except Alistair, who is older for no reason other than a plot point) but Jennifer is supposed to have had a brilliant career before she had children? She would've been 24 or 25 when Jake was born, which doesn't seem like a lot of time after finishing university at 21 to establish yourself? Similar for Kate, too, really. Mid 20s seems like a young age for this demographic to be finding themselves pregnant, but there's no mention of this? I would have bought it more if they were 45 or fifty in the book.

I will say that I didn't know as I was reading the book whether T M Logan was a man or a woman, and I didn't look until afterwards, but I'm not surprised he's a man. There were a few times that Kate did something and I thought, "No woman would ever write another woman doing that". It was very strange.

I'm giving this three out of five because I was compelled to keep reading to see what happened, but honestly, don't bother with it.

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