24 Merrion Road, Notting Hill, is the home to five very different residents. At the top lives Sarah, a child psychologist, who has recently got divorced and lost her best friend who also lived at number 24. In the flat below lives Leo, Sarah’s ex husband with his new wife, interior designer Helena. On the first floor Jane and Tom move in and bring a zest for life that infects he rest of the residents and brings them together. In the basement lives Lisa, a single mother, whose daughter, Una, is no longer talking after the break up of her parent’s relationship, and finally Mavis, who hides herself away and is well known for being a bit difficult.
All the residents hold secrets and over the course of the summer of 2016 their lives become entwined, and the air I fizzes with potential and change. Secrets can’t stay secret forever.
Every now and then I do like reading a nice easy book with good characters and story line that isn’t too taxing, and The Woman at Number 24 fits this criteria perfectly. The plot follows the main character, Sarah, as she comes to terms with the loss of her marriage and her crisis in her belief of herself as a child psychologist. Through her relationship with the other residents we are privy to her thoughts and feelings as she tries to come to terms with her situation. Anyone would feel for her living in the flat above her ex and his new wife, especially when that ex is pompous, and a lothario who plays on Sarah’s vunrability. The plot is fast paced, and I really enjoyed the Chinese proverbs at the start of each chapter. Juliet Ashton’s prose is fluid and relaxed, like the plot itself, which makes the book enjoyable to read.
Juliet Ashton introduces us to a wonderful and diverse set of characters for the reader to engage with. Mavis, in the basement, is know for being a grumpy and quite horrible character, however during the book we see a different side to her. She also has a secret that turns the story on its head. Jane and Tom become close friends to Sarah, and in Tom’s case maybe a bit too friendly putting Sarah in a difficult position. There introduction to the house is the catalyst for the change in the residents. In Una Sarah sees herself as a child, she too was caught up in the detritus of her parents divorce, but is having doubts about her ability. What really comes through from all the characters is their friendship and loyalty to each other, they are very protective over each other, and the house.
The Woman at Number 24 is a beautiful book, and should not be taken at face value. You may think you know this story but you don’t, there are quite a few twists and turns that change the direction of the story and the characters themselves. It encompasses a range of emotions, sadness, empathy and a lot of humour to keep you entertained. A great feel good novel.