When lonely single mum Janey stumbles into an art workshop, she can’t believe her eyes when her left hand mysteriously scribbles a picture of two little girls and a strange message from someone called ‘Hattie’: Janey’s childhood best friend. But they lost touch after Hattie’s family suddenly moved away in mysterious circumstances.
Janey’s instincts tell her that she must finally find out what happened to Hattie, but life is already complicated enough: she’s struggling with motherhood, a custody battle over her toddler son Pip is looming, and she finds herself falling for intense art tutor Steve. And when writing appears on the walls of her flat and Pip starts playing with an invisible friend, Janey fears she’s losing her mind. Is it really a good idea to go digging up the past? As dark secrets come to light, she can’t be sure what’s real any more – or who to trust…
Moving and suspenseful, The Last Day I Saw Her is a richly emotive story of friendship lost and found, and how facing up to the past can help you find a better future.
I was sent an advance copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
I first came across Edinburgh-based author Lucy Lawrie when I reviewed her debut novel Tiny Acts of Love, which she’d written when she was on maternity leave.
I’ve been away from reviewing for a while and it seemed only right that I returned to review Lawrie’s new book, The Last Day I Saw Her, as I’m now also on maternity leave myself -albeit mine is a lot less productive than Lawrie’s…how she found the time I have no idea. I have nothing but admiration for her.
As adults, we enjoy reminiscing about our school days and wonder what our friends from then are doing now. Janey does just that in The Last Day I Saw Her, reminiscing about her school friend Hattie, who mysteriously disappeared when she was 12. She accidentally takes an art class run by the dishy Steve and soon the mystery begins to unravel in ways she never expected.
This book is very different to the light and funny Tiny Acts of Love and I don’t know if it’s because I’m a new mum who read this book as I rocked my baby to sleep various times a day, but it really got to me emotionally. It’s a thriller and keeps you guessing throughout, with some surprises along the way and although it took a few chapters to get going I found that when I was hooked, that was it. I’d sit by my baby’s crib long after she’d fallen asleep just to find out what happened next.
It is an enjoyable (yet unnerving at times) read which shows Lawrie has talent to write different genres. Yes, there’s still a bit of romance in there thanks to Steve but it certainly isn’t the main thread. What we have is a very complicated history from not just Janey but also Hattie, Hattie’s family, their childhood piano teacher Miss Fortune (great name!) and Steve. Even with all of these different threads and histories weaving throughout the story, alongside the present day story of Janey’s battle for custody with her son Pip’s dad and his new partner, Lawrie leaves no loose ends.
I really enjoyed reading The Last Day I Saw Her and look forward to reading more of Lawrie’s work in future. Now to write my novel while I’ve got a few weeks of maternity leave left…
If you’re keen to purchase The Last Day I Saw Her, it is out now – click the book cover at the top for more details.