‘The Safe Place’ is the latest book by Anna Downes.
Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’ wife take care of their daughter, Aurelia. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again. But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamourous facade. Rather than throwing herself headline into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool, Emily can’t help but ask questions. Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does Aurelia refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night?
Today I spent my day curled up with Anna Downes, a suspenseful thriller that I had absolutely no idea where it was going and for me, that’s the sign of a great book.
The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Emily, an aspiring actress who in the one day loses her job and her accommodation. But her boss Scott Denny comes to the unlikely rescue offering her a a new opportunity with his company, in the form of a housekeeper position for his daughter and wife in France.
Emily finds herself in a secluded house with only Nina and her daughter Aurelia for company as well as the house carekeeper, Yves. The house is in an amazing location but needs a lot of work with only Nina, Emily and Yves able to do it. But as the days pass, Emily begins to wonder if this job is quite the dream that she expected, with remote access and no contact to others, a mute little girl and a house that seems to be shrouded in secrets.
The story is also seen through the perspective of Scott, who’s quite the entrepreneur with a controlling nature and it’s interesting to see why he picked Emily specifically as the house keeper for his house and family. Another narrative is seen from the perspective of Nina, who’s Scott’s wife and it tells the history of the couple and they got into the position that they are currently in.
This is Anna’s debut novel and what a debut it is. Right from the beginning, she reels the reader in with the unsettling and claustrophobic situation that leaves the reader wondering what’s going on and why Emily?
In the initial start of the story, I didn’t like Emily, I think it’s because of how she treats her adoptive parents only getting in contact when she’s looking for something and that seems to be all the time. But as the story progresses, like Emily I begin to fear for her safety and feel sorry for the situation that she is in. Scott and Nina are an interesting couple, they say that they’ve moved to France due to Aurelia’s allergy to the sun, but throughout the story I was convinced there was something far more sinister going on.
The story moves at a nice pace that keeps the reader engaged with the interweaving narratives and dual perspectives. Right from the first page, this story pulled me in, with unreliable characters against the backdrop of a picturesque location, ‘The Safe Place’ is a tense and absorbing thriller that hooks the reader from the first page.
You can buy ‘The Safe Place’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.