Small, perfect towns often hold the deepest secrets.
From the outside, Essie’s life looks idyllic: a loving husband, a beautiful house in a good neighborhood, and a nearby mother who dotes on her grandchildren. But few of Essie’s friends know her secret shame: that in a moment of maternal despair, she once walked away from her newborn, asleep in her carriage in a park. Disaster was avoided, and Essie got better, but she still fears what lurks inside her, even as her daughter gets older and she has a second baby.
When a new woman named Isabelle moves in next door to Essie, she is an immediate object of curiosity in the neighborhood. Why single, when everyone else is married with children? Why renting, when everyone else owns? What mysterious job does she have? And why is she so fascinated with Essie? As the two women grow closer and Essie’s friends voice their disapproval, it starts to become clear that Isabelle’s choice of neighborhood was no accident. And that her presence threatens to bring shocking secrets to light.
The Family Next Door is Sally Hepworth at her very best: at once a deeply moving portrait of family drama and a compelling suburban mystery that will keep listeners hooked until the very last word.
Everyone can have a perfect life, but if you don’t, you can make it look like you do. Ange, Fran, and Essie have perfected the art of making their lives appear perfect. First, social media is a must. Post the right family pictures with the right hashtags and you are off to a good start. Next, adopt a mantra, “my life is perfect” and repeat said mantra regularly (essentially, lie to yourself). Remember, it’s easy to look and feel perfect if you refuse to acknowledge the flaws in your relationship and family.
Sometimes it takes fresh blood to shake things up. This is where Isabelle comes in to the story… a new implant into the neighborhood. Fran and Ange are really curious about her and Essie is drawn to her. Who is this newcomer? Why would a single woman move into a family neighborhood? What’s worse, how does Isabelle know so much about her neighbors?
I was a little taken aback when I started reading The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth because it is so realistic. We all have that friend who stages her social media, the friend who isn’t honest with herself about life and relationships, and the friend who appears to have everything. Add a little mystery to the equation and you have the makings of an interesting story.
I was not a big fan of the characters in this book at first, but then they started to grow on me. Once I started to see their vulnerability, I was able to connect with them on a different level. The story was intriguing and unpredictable, and I loved the way Sally Hepworth was able to weave the characters’ voices together to build mystery.