Review: Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

From breakout thriller writer Paula Daly, the story of a husband and wife and the devious best friend who comes between them.

Natty and Sean have a rock-solid marriage—with two daughters, a successful business, and a beautiful house, they are a model family. When their younger daughter falls ill on a school trip, Natty rushes to her side. Luckily, Natty’s best friend from college, Eve, is visiting and offers to stay with Sean to lend a hand in the household. But Natty returns home to find that Eve has taken to family life a little too well: Sean has fallen in love with her. With no choice but to put on a brave face, Natty attempts to start anew—yet no matter how hard she tries to set herself upright, Eve is there to knock her down again. Then Natty receives a mysterious note that says Eve has done this before—more than once—and the consequences were fatal. On a mission to reveal Eve as a vindictive serial mistress, Natty must navigate through a treacherous maze of secrets and lies that threatens her life and the safety of her loved ones.” – Goodreads

I will start by saying this is not the type of book I usually read, the novel centres around Natty, mother of two, always busy, always worrying, striving for the perfect life. However, this perfect life starts to unravel when her daughter Felicity is taken ill and a friend whom she thought she could trust ends up snaring her husband. As various secrets get revealed the novel takes quite a sinister turn and themes of deception and murder begin to come into play.

I personally enjoy books where the action happens in the first few pages, I like to be gripped by a novel from the get go with information about the surroundings and backstory given to me as I get further into the story. This novel does give you a lot of backstory throughout, however nothing particularly exciting happens until page 30 when we’re first introduced to Eve.
But from here on out I just enjoyed this novel more and more with every page. Looking back it has a very similar feel to The Girl on the Train but with much, much better characters and writing that was miles more interesting (can you tell I wasn’t impressed with The Girl on the Train?).
I felt that the plot moved at a good pace never feeling boring or padded out but also never feeling rushed. There were lots of plot twists and unexpected moments which were all tied nicely together at the end in a conclusion that didn’t leave me with any glaring questions about Eve. However, I’m sure Daly achieved exactly what she wanted to with the end of this novel but, as much as I enjoyed the book and thoroughly recommend it, I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the ending.
Even though Eve’s plot-line is thoroughly concluded, no-one else’s is. You have no idea how Natty and her family fair afterwards, whether she reconciles with Sean, how Alice and Felicity deal with the transpired events, if Sean ever realises the true extent of Eve’s plans. I know some authors like to leave this sort of stuff up to the imagination, so readers can make their own ending but I personally like to be told these things. The rest of the characters are pretty messed up at the end of this book, I really would have liked to have seen even the smallest glimpse of ‘life after Eve’ shall we say.
Despite this I liked all of the characters in this book, I didn’t think there were any weak links. I felt the main character Natty was likeable, relatable and her actions were thoroughly explained and made understandable. She fiercely fought for the people she loved and had a real purpose throughout the novel to protect her family which is something that really draws you into her.
Sean is written as the weak, easily led-astray husband who falls straight into another woman’s trap. You’re not supposed to like Sean, and why would you? It takes him less than 10 days to fall into the bed of his wife’s best friend, who he’s too oblivious to realise is just using him. Sean annoyed me very much, but not because he was badly written, more because he was very well written.
With Eve I like how we don’t get a lot of information about her, from her. It gives her an air of mystery and I like that we find things out about Eve at the same time Natty does. That way we are sort of put into Natty’s shoes and when she goes and confronts Sean and he doesn’t believe her, it makes you want to shake him and say “Why are you so stupid?!” Which, incidentally is probably exactly how Natty feels.
For the girls (Alice and Felicity), I don’t particularly like it when teenagers say “Mummy” in books, as to me this just isn’t realistic. However, I was willing to overlook this as again the two characters were very real and well written.
This has turned into a very lengthy review so congratulations if you’re still reading! Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to fans of The Girl on the Train and anything similar, but also if you’re not a fan give it a try anyway, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Paperback | 400 pages

Goodreads rating: 3.76                Published: 21/05/2014 | Corgi (first published 13/03/2014)
My rating: 4/5


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