I'm thrilled to be on the blog tour today for The People At Number 9 with a guest post by Felicity Everett and a review.
‘Journey’ is a good word to use in the context of my new novel The People at Number 9. If my husband’s work had not taken us on a journey, 10,000 miles from home, to Melbourne, Australia, I might never have seen what stared me in the face when I got there – that there was great fodder for a book in my old London suburb of Lewisham. I had lived there for twenty five years and I’d become very attached to it. Living there had been nothing like the cliché I had been warned about as a Mancunian moving to London – I had feared an aloof, inhospitable place where no-one passed the time of day. I found a close-knit and supportive community. Sometimes, I must admit, it got a little bit too close-knit - there could be gossip; a sense of your neighbours always knowing your business, which got me wondering… what if there was business to know…
That’s when I dreamed up the idea of two couples living next door to each other, one perfectly happy leading a humdrum suburban existence, and parenting their two children, the other, new to the area, Bohemian; arty; raising their kids haphazardly, but having a lot of fun. What if couple one became so intoxicated with couple two, were so inspired by their creativity and their glamour that they began to make changes to their own lives – to emulate their new friends and become entangled in their lives in such a way as to lose sight of who they really were? It seemed to me, then, that I had the beginnings of a novel. I joined a writer’s group in a nearby suburb (Melbourne is a fantastic city for writers and writing) and over the next eighteen months I wrote and work-shopped The People at Number 9. I was a bit worried that the London setting might seem parochial and put people off, but the Aussies in my group loved the sense of place and by then the characters seemed real to me, so I carried on. Just as we were due to up sticks again and return to the UK, I finished my first draft and sent it to my agent. She was enthusiastic, and when I’d tweaked it a bit, she sent it out to some prospective publishers. I was really lucky in that the publisher that went for it was Kate Mills, who was just launching a new imprint, HQ, for Harper Collins – it would be the first novel off the press under that imprint, which made me really proud.
Meet the new neighbours. Whose side are you on?
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up the courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara's street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sarah is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another's houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they've no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them,..
Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs...
The People At Number 9 is a debut by Felicity Everett.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book. From reading the blurb I was thinking that it would be a twisty psychological thriller, it wasn’t quite that, but I was very surprised by what I read and I found it an exciting and intriguing read.
When Gavin and Lou move next door to Sara and Neil, Sara is desperate to strike up a conversation with Lou. When she finally gets round to saying hello they soon develop a friendship and for Sara, in Lou, she has found a new best friend. But the relationship soon begins to turn toxic and leads to a devastating twist which will have consequences for them all. This novel had some great characterization which for me was one of the strong points of the story.
What I really loved about this book was the dialogue. This is where Felicity excelled in her writing which made the book engaging and kept me turning the pages. I could sense a time bomb ticking in the background as I read this book and I was waiting for that moment when one of the couples was going to snap and I loved how Felicity built up the tension. The twist at the end really did surprise me; I wasn’t expecting it to take that direction.
On the front cover of the novel, the publishers ask us: whose side are you on? For me I couldn’t really decide. I think I definitely preferred Sara over Lou however.
The book wasn’t quite what I expected but overall I really enjoyed this story. Felicity is a writer to watch and I will certainly be looking out for her next book. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy to review.
Publication date: 6th April 2017
Print length: 320 pages