‘The Pretenders’ is the latest book by Agatha Zaza.
Jasper is ready to surprise his brother; Holly is ready to celebrate their engagement. Anne tags along for fear of missing out, and John might just be going for another drink. But Edmund and Ovidia had other plans for their Saturday. Over the course of one day, these couples must own up to the secrets they’ve been hiding from one another and the lies they’ve been telling themselves. And face the devastating consequences.
It’s difficult to go into a lot of detail about this book as it’s quite easy to give a lot away.
It’s seen from the perspective of Edward and Ovidia, they are at a crossroad in their relationship. After many years together, they have been faced with a situation that has made them doubt through the strength of their relationship, as well as on this particular day, they have to make a difficult decision.
But on this day, Edward’s younger brother, Jasper has called around to share the exciting news of becoming newly engaged to Holly. Included in this day of celebrations is Anne and John, who are friends of the brothers. But the day quickly becomes sour when Jasper discovers that Edward is seeing Ovidia, the famous ex who broke Jasper’s heart who Holly only recently healed. This makes the already tense and sad day, a more complex and dramatic meeting.
The characters are intriguing in this story. I warmed to Edward with his quiet intensity and love towards Ovidia that he’s trying to hold back from. I deplored Jasper, he’s self absorbed and as the story progresses, he gets even more narcissistic and absorbed in his problems rather than those around him. His relationship with Edward is complicated, although Edward sees out for his brother and wants to protect him, Jasper is caught up in his own drama that he is unable to see beyond his own jury and recognise his brother’s psi and this makes for upsetting reading as Jasper seemed unaware of other people’s pain.
Ovidia is an interesting person, she paints a different character behind closed doors and it’s evident that like Edward, she is also struggling. Other supporting characters in the story make for interesting reading as Anne wonders about her own relationship and Holly is questioning her love for Jasper.
I was hooked from the start with this book, with each chapter, a new secret is revealed making this bold and dramatic debut a shocking noir. Brilliantly written and heartbreakingly honest, ‘The Pretenders’ is a compelling and reflective debut that touches on love, relationships and recovering from domestic violence that made for tender and upsetting reading in parts. This family drama had me enthralled from the first page.
You can pre-order ‘The Pretenders’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 5th November 2020.