Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together.
Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words.
As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?
There is nothing better than having a brand new Orenda book land on your doormat, particularly on a hot weekend when you know that you’ll be able to lie on a lounger and dedicate serious hours of sunny reading to it. This was my very fortunate position when the newest Louise Voss novel, The Old You arrived in the post and it made me feel doubly lucky to be able to kick back and enjoy it in the middle of the hottest May since weather records began…
It had been a while since I’d fully immersed myself in a stunning slice of domestic noir and I felt like I enjoyed this novel all the more as my palate had been cleansed and I was so in the mood for it. I’m not sure whether other people get like this or not – I definitely go on genre sprees and can get saturated in one particular type of writing. I’ve been a fan of Louise Voss since reading Catch your Death where she performed a stunning literary duet with Mark Edwards and The Old You was the perfect way to reconnect with her skilful characterisation and deft plotting.
We share Lyn’s utter shock when the love of her life, Ed is suddenly diagnosed with Pick’s disease which is a very rare form of dementia. The distress and confusion which affected her after his diagnosis is fabulously drawn and really gives an insight into the way that dementia can turn life as you know it totally upside down. The skilful way that Voss has structured this novel means that we are just as unsettled as Lyn is when, as well as the changes that happen as a result of Ed’s condition odd and unsettling things begin to happen and we are never really sure whether to blame Ed’s actions or Lyn’s paranoia for the situation which slowly unfolds.
So many books nowadays are labelled as pageturners that it’s such an amazing feeling when you’re presented with a book that is the genuine article. The Old You definitely keeps its readers on their toes and we are constantly forced to consider who exactly we can trust in Voss’ intriguing and compelling novel. Is the ‘real’ Ed the man Lyn fell in love with, a man whose personality and character is being eroded daily by this dreadful illness or is the angry and aggressive man who she now finds herself married to the real Ed, who is being slowly unmasked as his illness becomes more pronounced?
Ed’s memory is a fabulous vehicle to explore the changes in the dynamics of a marriage faced with a serious health condition. Lyn is constantly wrestling with a deep-seated feeling of unease about Ed’s actions – she can’t square the circle of whether it is Ed or her own suspicious mind that is causing her to feel so on edge and this is a fabulous way of keeping the readers on their toes. We are constantly drip-fed new information, but not enough to totally un-muddy the waters in this fiendishly clever tale. I enjoyed the feeling of disorientation which ensued and was delighted to be able to sun myself in the garden wondering exactly how far I could trust Lyn’s perception of events and trying to work out where Voss would end up taking us.
Lynn and Ed’s past only reveals itself to us slowly and this is one of the main reasons that this plot was so satisfying for me. I liked the ‘spaces in between’ where we are left wondering about aspects of their relationship and joint history and there were plenty of opportunities to be wrong about something and then flick back through the pages and see that the clues were there all along, scattered so cleverly by Voss.
I hate spoilers so I’m keeping my cards close to my chest with this one. The plot never feels contrived or ‘twist for the sake of it’ and this was why it was such a satisfying read for me. I’ve heard lots of readers complaining about the way that they’ve felt a bit cheated by the end of some of the inferior domestic noir offerings out at the moment. With The Old You there’s no need to worry; you’re in very safe hands. The characterisation is spot on and you too will be swept along, wondering whether your suspicions are correct as Lyn’s life changes beyond all recognition.
The Old You is my favourite mystery of the year. I know that Karen can pick them, but here I feel like she really has excelled herself. This is the perfect holiday read – it will virtually make you a prisoner on your sunbed as you will be so loath to tear yourself way for any length of time because you’ll be too desperate to find out the truth about Ed and Lyn’s unravelling marriage.
The Old You is published by Orenda Books and is currently available on Amazon Kindle for a bargain price. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour with such fabulous company. If you get the chance, be sure to check out the reviews from my fabulous fellow bloggers
Writer on the Shelf
Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books.
If you haven’t read her backlist, you’re in for a treat, have a look here
Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.