I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .
Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.
Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.
Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .
Extract: She tucks her phone into the tiny clutch bag on the table then looks across at me. There's concern in her blue eyes, but a sliver of excitement too.
"That was Leanne. She's in that new gay club in Soho, Malice, with Al. Al's on the hunt for Simone and her new girlfriend."
"Shit." I clutch my bag and reach round for my coat.
"You ok if we go? I know we were talking about your job and -"
"It's fine." I stand up. "Al needs us. Let's grab a cab."
We sit in silence as the taxi splashes through puddles and the bright lights of London's West End speed past us. The streets are unusually empty, the heavy rain forcing locals and tourists into packed pubs, the windows misty with condensation.
Daisy looks up from her phone. "You know it's the anniversary of her brother's death, don't you?"
"Yeah. I rang her at lunchtime."
"How was she?"
"Shit, at work?"
"No, skiving, she was in the pub."
"She's been doing that a lot recently."
"Yeah, to stalk Simone," Daisy says and we share a look.
It's been over a month since Al and Simone split up but Al's behaviour is becoming more and more erratic by the day. She's convinced that Simone left her because she met someone else and she's determined to find out who. She spends hours on Google, looking for 'clues' and Leanne told Daisy that she's created several false Facebook profiles to try and get access to Simone's page, or anyone she's friends with. None of us saw the split coming, not least Al who'd been planning on proposing. She'd been saving up for months for a ring and a safari in Kenya so she could propose on an elephant ride - Simone's favourite animal.
"Here we are ladies," the cab driver says over his shoulder as we pull up outside the neon pink Malice sign.
Daisy pokes a tenner through the plastic partition then opens the car door. "Let's go and get Al."
"Excuse me, darling. Thank you. Excuse me." Daisy elbows her way through thethrong of bodies clogging up the stairs and I follow in her wake. We've already squeezed our way through the dance floor on the ground floor in search of Leanne and Al but there was no sign of them. No sign of Simone either.
"Loos!" Daisy twists back and waves her mobile phone at me as she reaches the top of the stairs then takes a left.
I struggle to push my way through the huge crowd of women drinking beer and hanging out outside the women's loos but finally make my way inside.
"Oi!" A large woman wearing a Superdry T-shirt and oversized jeans shoots out a tattooed arm to bar my way as I attempt to squeeze past her. "There's a queue."
"Sorry, I'm just looking for a friend."
"Emma, in here!" A cubicle door swings out and Daisy waves at me through the gap. She pulls an apologetic face at the woman in the queue. "Sorry, we're dealing with a crisis in here."
"Bloody lesbians," the woman says, "always a melodrama."
There's no space for me to squeeze inside the cubicle so I hover outside and poke my head around the door. Al is sitting on the loo with her head in her hands. Leanne and Daisy are pressed up against the walls either side of her. Every couple of seconds pumping house music floods the small space as women file in and out of the toilet, grumbling as they squeeze past me to an empty cubicle.
"Al, sweetie," Daisy hitches up her dress and squats down next to her. "Let's get you home."
Al shakes her head. The hems of her oversized jeans are wet with rainwater and the laces of one of her trainers are untied. There's cellophane poking out from beneath the arm of her T-shirt. She's had another tattoo but I can't make out what it is.
Leanne catches my eye, as though noticing me for the first time. She's dyed her fringe pink since the last time I saw her. Her sharp black bob has always looked a bit severe but, with the pink streak and her new thick-rimmed black 'geek' specs dominating her thin face she looks a bit like she's wearing a motorbike helmet.
She shrugs and angles her arm towards me so I can read the time on her Mickey Mouse watch. It's . She flashes her fingers at me then holds up two more. Shit, Al's been drinking for twelve hours.
Review: wow, another hit from this fab author, she really knows how to keep her readers gripped! I was intrigued by the premise behind this one because I knew that Cally Taylor had been doing research into cults and things like that so I couldn't wait to get reading! The book starts of fairly slowly but the big name change reveal happens quickly and everything kind of speeds up from there picking up more and more pace as it gets going, turning into something that nobody is going to be able to put down-a lot like her previous novel-The Accident, this book was just as compelling.
I thought Jane/Emma was a really interesting character because she was the fairly normal one of the group. There was nothing necessarily remarkable about her and so she is a really good character to be leading this tale because she stands out against the back drop of wild child mates, obsessive men and women at the retreat and someone sending her threatening notes/messages in her life now as Jane. She was a pretty savvy individual and so I didn't have to spend to much of this book shouting at her to wake up and realise what was going on like I thought I might have to! The other characters in the book are all fun to read about, I really like Janes love interest-Will (and not just because he is a teacher). He is also a sensible individual and so he seems to calm Jane/Emma down, a good thing in a book like this!
This book is split between present day and five years ago and so you build up a picture of what has gone on before as the book moves on, something which I think gave the book depth rather than just laying it out for you chapter by chapter. Because it jumps between the two time periods, we get to know the person that Emma/Jane became and what is behind her new life, where she has come from. There is an interesting contrast between the company she kept and the company she keeps now and also between her dependence on her friends rather than dependence on herself in the past/present, I really liked this.
There were a lot of moments in the book that I didn't see coming. It did make me pretty paranoid as to whether I had locked the back door or not when I was reading this alone in my house but don't let that put you off. This is an edge of your seat type of affair but doesn't deal with anything improbable, these events could have happened to you or me and you will probably question how well you know the people in your workplace after reading this-if you weren't already. If you loved The Accident you definitely need to read this right now but you don't have to have read one to enjoy the other so I suggest either way you get some CL Taylor and a The Lie in your life right now!